Bhopal - A Prayer for Rain: Movie Review

Attributes: Movie Reviews

Usually I take a deep breath before I start running my fingers across the keyboard to come up with a write up that would describe the subject to the best of my abilities. But when you’re writing about the world’s worst industrial disaster that left thousands choked to a horrific end, I had to reconsider the ‘deep breath’ and the for granted-ness we all hold towards life. We all have read about the lethal leak in tabloids and seen similar imagery in many documentaries. However, director Ravi Kumar renders and revisits the subject with a gut-wrenching visual narrative, but entwined with the commoners’ life. In the first 15 min of the movie, a Union Carbide laborer succumbs to a single drop of the methyl isocyanate (MIC). What follows is an emotionally stirring docudrama of an unaware and rather innocent town sleeping with a mammoth 40 tons of this ruinous composition stored right at its heart.
 
This obviously isn’t a popcorn movie.
 
Each frame (specially the second half) calls for a lot of courage.
 
The movie leaves you with a lot of questions. Who is to blame? Typical two faced American businessman, Anderson alone? Or is it the poverty stricken rickshaw puller, Dilip (Rajpal Yadav) who barely can make the ends meet? Is it the helpless Safety Officer (Joy Sengupta) whose constant persuasion is silenced by the parasitical admin? Or is it the government, blinded in greed for power trying to milk the cash cows? The director beautifully (not necessarily factually) shows how all these converge slowly and gradually play their inevitable parts to bring down the ill-fated day.
 
The subject calls for a challenging visual depiction (making it just sufficiently gross and not suffocatingly disturbing) and the movie leaves no stone unturned. Every leaky faucet, every loose bolt, every sunset gives you the jitters that something will go wrong any minute (practically making you feel like sitting on a time bomb). But when it ‘happens’ for real, the director makes you sit through it by gently balancing it with an unusual wedding background score. (The gas leaks same night as Dilip’s sister’s wedding) Such techniques turn a thoroughly researched script into a nerve wrecking screenplay.
 
The second half, when the leak takes over the town, expect some utterly unsettling frames (aptly executed) For instance the dilemma of the doctor who holds the last drop of antidote in his syringe and on the other end of a locked shutter is the whole town - of inflamed, deranged, zombie like victims yearning for help.
 
Having said all that, the movie creates 1 ½ hour of a super emotionally engaging experience… one that could have been used as a potential platform to give out a thought provoking idea as to how we at our individual levels can make the slightest difference. I really don’t know how the script would have held that… but instead of wandering in the same grievances (delay in legal actions, shortcomings of the government, the agony of the victims) one suggestive perspective could have been appreciated – an appeal, petition or anything that can help emancipation and prevent an unparalleled mass homicide like this. The movie falls flat with the somewhat incomplete ‘present day Bhopal’ ending.
 
The casting could not have been better with familiar and relatable faces like Rajpal Yadav, joined by Tanishta Chatterji, playing their roles with elan. Kal Penn vanishes abruptly leaving a good performance uncultivated.
 
I was left wanting for some food for thought. All in all 3.5 shors.

Tags: Bhopal - A Prayer for Rain, Bhopal - A Prayer for Rain: Movie Review, Bollywood Movie Review, Hindi Movie Review

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