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Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
4 Star popcorn reviewss


Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film Bheed in a theatre near me. One of the reasons why I was keenly awaiting its release was because it was directed by Anubhav Sinha, a director who belongs to the rare breed of filmmakers whose voice needs to be preserved at any cost. In his 2.0 avatar, he has tackled various issues in his films like Religion Discrimination in Mulk, Caste Discrimination in Article 15,  Domestic Violence in Thappad and the ongoing issue of the North-East In Anek. In his new outing, he was to set his drama in a period which can best be described as ‘traumatic’ and ‘nightmarish’.

It has been 3 years since the first lockdown was announced in India following the Covid-19 pandemic. While the decision was necessary, it did mark the failure of infrastructure wherein the entire machinery came crumbling down. With so many people having lost their lives, it is safe to say that the first three years of the pandemic were possibly the darkest period of our generation. As the world is slowly returning to normalcy, recalling that period does send a shiver down my spine. And this while I can categorize myself as reasonably privileged, throwing in opinions from the comfort of my house.

It was in this period that the country observed the largest human exodus since the partition in 1947 wherein several migrant workers did make their way back to their villages on foot. In the process, while some did make it home after multiple obstacles along the way, so many did lose their lives in the worst way possible. This while the authorities on the field were trying their best to keep people indoors and curb the spread of the virus. I wouldn’t fault either sides, nobody was wrong but at the end of the day, it was a sad day for humanity. Based on this fact, I was anticipating Bheed to be hard-hitting given the reputation of the director as well. So then does Bheed manage to impress, lets find out!

Story & Screenplay

Set against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bheed follows the story of a crowd featuring people from different walks of life gathered at a checkpoint immediately post the first lockdown. Now, we have seen many stories set against the backdrop of the lockdown. Recently too, I had watched the Hindi film India Lockdown which was a shallow account of the lives impacted during the pandemic. But here, the story goes beyond the realms of the pandemic by infusing an element of politics in the drama. And that does make the drama extremely relevant although this is really understated and barely the tip of the iceberg. The screenplay standing at just about a 112 minutes does make for a supremely compelling watch.

The one thing that I did have at the back of my mind was on how would the film appear to be after the several censor cuts. Even earlier, the trailer of the film had run into controversy after it was pulled down from Youtube days after its launch, only to be re-uploaded with minor cuts(including the voice of an honourable individual which was edited out). But the good news is that the censor cuts did not drastically have an impact on the film. Secondly, I was amazed at some of the negative reviews of the film wherein people have almost assumed it to be against the authorities. Instead, the politics here is not directed towards any individual or a political party but instead it does focus on the issues which are played out at a checkpoint with a mild political untone to it(again solely based on the situation). This is a far cry from Sinha’s previous film Anek which was a pretty good watch but somewhere got preachy.

The drama does open with a hard-hitting sequence of a tired group of migrant resting on a railway track before being run over by a train. Now, the writers choose not to showcase the gore but it did have such a profound impact on the minds of the viewers that it set the ball rolling quite well. I was almost shivering while witnessing the opening sequence. Soon, you are introduced to a bunch of characters – each of them impacted by the ongoing pandemic in some way or the other. The writers do give an inkling of the political undertones of the film, very early on when they choose to touch upon a caste based discrimination in not one but two separate incidents. Additionally, the writers also briefly touch upon the class divide in a beautifully moving scene featuring a character who is shown sitting in her car while passing through hoards of people. In another scene, a character exclaims on how he loves the countryside, to which he is asked – Which side of the car(wherein hoards of people are seen walking off on one side of the road while the other did remain empty).

The proceedings are shot in black and white to depict the grimness of the situation. Soon, the main conflict is introduced wherein the rest of the drama does unfold at a checkpost. The location is also shown to be ironic wherein a checkpost has a glittering mall beside it. This while dozens of people are stranded and hungry, with children and women also contributing to the crowd. The castism and the representation of power are sensitive issues but handled expertly. Particularly the latter was a tricky proposition to showcase and it was done so extremely well through a couple of scenes. In one scene, a character tells another that justice for the poor is different from justice being dished out to the others. In another scene, a character exclaims on how the system was designed to keep the poor at the level where they find themselves in(on being retorted previously that the migrants may not return to the cities given how they are treated). The role of the media could have been explored a little more as well.

Yet, the politics of the situation is more enunciated in the second hour wherein there are religious undertones to the drama as well. The point to be noted being that Corona did not differentiate on religion, caste or creed, instead it did impact everyone equally. This, while at no point did the drama get preachy or take sides in the name of propoganda. However, I did have minor criticism with events leading up to the final act. The dramatized bits inside the mall did not quite land for me although the sequence individually was working fine. Also, I would have liked had the film not provided a simplistic resolution at the end, a negative end(of sorts) would have delivered the message even better. Yet, I did not quite mind how the film did end too which did seem to show a layer of consciousness as far as humanity is concerned(with a shade of grey). Overall, the screenplay is well written and supremely hard-hitting in the subtlest way possible!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are extremely well written and quite poignant with a few lines. The lines have a profound impact on the proceedings. The music blends extremely well with the proceedings. The BGM is good too and holds the narrative together. The cinematography is excellent although the colour grading of choosing to shoot the film in black and white didn’t quite add enough value. The drama would still have had the same impact if shown in colour(but again, I shall let this criticism pass). The editing was sharp and crisp. Director Anubhav Sinha does a marvelous job in voicing out the multiple issues which may have been brushed beneath the carpet. His direction is top notch given how invested I was in the drama, and I wish he continues to express himself through this wonderful medium.


The performances are brilliant by the ensemble cast. Dia Mirza is wonderful to watch and has her moments to shine. Sushil Pandey as Kanhaiyya is sincere and earnest in a heartfelt performance which acts as a bridge between the privileged and the poor. Omkar Das Manikpuri and Aditi Subedi are excellent in their respective roles, particularly the latter who expresses her frustration and helplessness so well. Karan Pandit is first rate. Kritika Kamra as Vidhi is top notch and delivers a dignified performance. Virendra Saxena as Dubey is pretty good as well.

Aditya Srivastava as Ram Singh is calculative and subtly conniving in a job done extremely well! Ashutosh Rana as Yadav is natural to the core, particularly in the final act and his diction was a joy to witness. Bhumi Pednekar is such a fine actor and she delivers a subtly powerful performance that does have a profound impact. Pankaj Kapoor as Balram was an absolute pleasure to watch onscreen and his performance was so layered that it made me want to applaud his efforts. Rajkummar Rao as Surya Kumar Singh Tikas is exceptional in every sense of the word and a timely reminder on what a phenomenal actor he truly is!


Bheed is probably the best Hindi film of the year yet with its profound theme and powerful performances. Do not miss this! Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended!

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