Bhakshak Movie Review: In Jawan, Shah Rukh Khan's character sneakily breaks the fourth wall and earnestly addresses the audience, emphasising our duty as voters and the importance of choosing our representatives wisely. In his latest production, Bhakshak, Bhumi Pednekar's character gazes directly into the camera, and she also urges us to embrace our responsibility as citizens. She implores us not to be apathetic, a 'zero' when it comes to empathising with the less privileged so that the powerful get away with their crimes. While Jawan deftly incorporates a social message within its masala entertainer framework, Bhakshak emerges as a more intense and unsettling drama, delving into a real-life scandal that is both hard-hitting and, at times, nauseating. If the visceral impact lingers on you, consider yourself not a 'shoonya' or zero. I see what you are doing here, Mr Khan! Bhumi Gets Shoutout from Sister Samiksha for Her Performance in 'Bhakshak'.

What's The Plot of Bhakshak?

The protagonist of the story is Vaishali Singh (Bhumi Pednekar), a local news channel owner cum reporter who gets her hands on an audit report that exposes the crimes being carried out in the Munawwarpur shelter home. Vaishali is aghast that the government has been sitting on this report for months, taking no action, and she decides to cover the story with the help of her loyal cameraman Bhaskar (Sanjay Mishra). Of course, things aren't easy, as the malevolent, perverted owner of the shelter home, Bansi Sahu (Aditya Srivastava), is a powerful foe with strong political connections. Things are also not easy at home as her husband (Surya Sharma) and his family aren't too supportive, while displaying sexist behaviour at every turn.

Watch the Trailer of Bhakshak:

Although inspired by the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal in Bihar that was exposed in 2018, Bhakshak is not merely a fictional exposé of a disturbing crime involving sexual assault and torture of underage inmates. Pulkit's film also serves as a poignant reminder of the pivotal role fearless journalism plays in society, capable of moving mountains. This theme resonates powerfully as we observe a framed picture of Hanuman carrying the Dronagiri juxtaposed aside a portrait of the protagonist and her husband.

How Vaishali leads the fight in this David vs Goliath(s) story forms the rest of Bhakshak.

A Still From Bhakshak

Muzaffarpur Horrors

The film confronts the harsh reality of the Muzaffarpur scandal, delivering scenes that are not only repugnant but also purposeful in pricking the viewer's conscience. Whether through the disturbing opening sequence or a troubling flashback narrated by a former employee of the home, Bhakshak skillfully and sensitively achieves its goal—disturbing the audience while highlighting the severity of the crimes but also not overdoing the shock factor. Also, these scenes wouldn't have been effective if not for the actors who played the survivors or those who portrayed the vile, perverse caretakers.

A Still From Bhakshak

In a way, the film, scripted by Jyotsana Nath and Pulkit, reminded me of this 2011 South Korean drama called Silenced, starring Gong Yoo (of Coffee Prince and Squid Game fame), which was also based on a similar depraved scandal. While Silenced got its fitting ending after the movie was over - do read the story about the film and its impact on the case it covered, and you will believe there is justice in the world - Bhakshak, despite its fictionalised narration, is on a story that did get its just ending much before the film got made. Jawan Movie Review: Shah Rukh Khan is MASS MASS MASS in Atlee's Enjoyable Action-Entertainer!

The Fourth Pillar

Bhakshak also leaves a deeper impact when it reiterates the risks and significance of ground reporting that could turn into groundbreaking journalism if done right. The movie seems to have no respect for Godi channels; apart from taking digs at their TRP obsession in the closing monologue, don't ignore the snide joke in the opening act about a news channel called 'BND'. On the other hand, Bhakshak has major respect for local reporters and media, far away from the clutches of corporations, who are willing to take risks in their lives to report against powerful lobbies.

A Still From Bhakshak

While the film exhibits occasional screenplay flaws, such as the underdeveloped husband character and a somewhat weak justification for Bansi Sahu's not directly confronting Vaishali when her reporting causes major troubles for him, Bhakshak manages to overcome those with its intense screenplay that avoids any other distractions.

Bhumi and Sanjay - FAB!

The performances are also spot on. This is another strong showing from Bhumi Pednekar, who even gets a couple of clap-worthy monologues, especially the final one. Sanjay Mishra provides a perfect foil to her, bringing in some required dry humour when needed. Aditya Srivastav is suitably sinister as the main antagonist. Durgesh Kumar, known for his role in Panchayat, contributes a small, likeable character arc to the film. Special mention also to Tanisha Mehta who plays the character of Sudha.

Final Thoughts

In an era when Bollywood seems content with peddling propaganda, a glimmer of hope arises from films like Bheed, Afwah, and now, even Bhakshak, which dare to question the prevailing system and societal norms. The movie adeptly addresses its weighty subject, with Bhumi Pednekar and Sanjay Mishra delivering stellar performances that vividly exemplify the essence of responsible journalism.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 09, 2024 12:30 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website