Review of Bhagwan Bharose: Is the Shiladitya Bora director’s film a Left wing agenda if The Kashmir Files is Right wing propaganda?

Even the remarkable performances of young performers Satendra Soni and Sparsh Suman cannot save the mediocre storyline. But it has a really good social message, particularly for young people.

Score: ️ (2.5 out of 5)

Sparsh Soni and Satendra Soni

 

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world…we shall have to begin with the children.”

The great man’s words have mostly stayed hollow in a world growing more and more divided, with unresolved wars largely because of the hatred ideologies that younger generations in affected countries have acquired.

The forgotten Gandhian quotation opens director Shiladitya Bora’s and writer Sudhakar Nilmani’s “Eklavya,” Bhagwan Bharose [2023]. Nonetheless, it seems to be taking a different course for the next hour or so. First in their unnamed north Indian hamlet, Bhola [Satendra Soni] and his best friend Shambu [Sparsh Suman] are two children enamoured with the black and white television. Bhola’s father purchases the TV. He is a menial labourer in Bombay, which is now Mumbai.

Even the remarkable performances of young performers Satendra Soni and Sparsh Suman cannot save the mediocre storyline.
Even the remarkable performances of young performers Satendra Soni and Sparsh Suman cannot save the mediocre storyline.

The early screenplay, which is set in 1989, implies that this might be a kid’s movie on the influence of television on developing brains. The residents and children alike were eager to see Mahabharat. Sadly, a few weeks later, the town experiences severe power outages, which depresses the adorable little lads.

As was frequently the case with impoverished families in rural India, economic hardships force the children to seek out odd “wisdom” from the local pandit, a Hindu priest. The movie’s main narrative becomes clear as soon as you hear the azan (Islamic prayer) playing in the background, and the opening Gandhian quote isn’t totally forgotten. The children in the community have always been warned that there are monsters across the stream. The essential story comes later; the first half is devoted to developing an emotional bond with the two lads.

Bhagwan Bharose [2023] serves as a reminder of the ways in which certain interests exploit religion as a tool to further their polarising agenda. Early life experiences frequently sow the seeds of hatred, which causes the youth to absorb the  ideology. Even though it’s fiction, a lot of Bholas and Shambus lost their innocence during the events leading up to the 1992 communal riots in India that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

It seems sense for Eklavya and Bora to narrate their tale via the eyes of two little sons. The youth of a nation determines its destiny. What kind of legacy do you want your children to carry on? It is only logical to ponder if this is an anti-majority movie given the subtly allusion to the politicisation of religion during that specific historical moment.

There’s simmering religious hostility in this community on both sides. There is one man who stands out among this division. Bokharo Baba [Manu Rishi Chaddha], an atheist, is presumably the least popular person in the village and a lowborn. The only person who treats him nicely is Bhola’s maternal grandfather, Nanubhai [Vinay Pathak]. The other villagers are reassured by Nanubhai that Bokharo won’t cause any problems for the Satyanarayan puja. However, the atheist was unable to resist challenging some customs. Before anything unpleasant happens, he is asked to leave the puja.

Although there is a divide between the residents on each side, the conflict within the community makes them both sides of the same coin. What function does this Bokharo Baba serve? This atheist, is he not a communist?

The film, written by Eklavya and directed by Shiladitya Bora, is set around a time when Hindu nationalism was beginning to take shape. Doubting that modern times are similar to sedition. It makes sense for Eklavya and Bora to base their movie on the events of 1989.

It’s hard to criticise them for exposing a certain divided philosophy, but the two tend to downplay the hatred on the opposing side. (In 2023, extreme Islam will be a major source of world terrorism). It is easy to write off Bhagwan Bharose as some Communist propaganda when an atheist is involved. Liberal Left voices are ready to denounce films such as The Kashmir Files (2022) as propaganda for the Right. Shall they now claim that Bhagwan Bharose is propaganda from the Left?

We have never subscribed to any label of propaganda. No doubt, Bhagwan Bharose is more than just a propaganda movie. It just reveals the communal politics that feed off the naiveté of the young. When unemployment is factored in, youth are frequently easily seized. Additionally, there is a touch of capitalism in the form of Bhola’s uncle, a toy vendor at the funfair. Bhola, the poor one, had personal, societal, and financial burdens. In addition, the youngster was disillusioned by Nanubhai’s “shocking” demise. With Nanubhai no longer around, the helpless youngster has no one to mentor him.

Although Bora’s film has a strong social message, it lacks vitality due to its flimsy and boring writing. The screenplay, penned by Eklavya and directed by Bora, was a meagre 15-20 minutes. To make this into a feature film, the first half has been stretched.

The outstanding performances by young actors Satendra Soni and Sparsh Suman, as well as the powerful performance of Masumeh Makhija, who plays Bhola’s mother Radha, are what connect you to a Bhagwan Bharose.

 

 

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