Honestly, I am not a big fan of horror films and avoid watching them but Bulbbul is not just a horror film. It is a movie filled with suspense, thrill, and drama. It’s a story of a woman who lived her entire life in one house after getting married as a young child to an older man. Though her relationship with her husband was shown to be romantic in one particular scene of the film where they were seen sharing a paan made by the wife of her brother-in-law. She shared a more closer relationship with the younger brother-in-law who was also near her age when she got married and was brought to the haveli. Later, when the haveli was emptied by the men of the family because one brother faced death, one brother left it out of choice and the other to study law in London, there were cases of murders of men and the role of a witch was seen in all the murders.
There are no songs in the film, but the background music is a strong point and relates to the scene. It may not hit the right chord for many as Bulbbul does not fall under the genre of horror comedy like Bhool Bhulaiya or Stree where there are also supernatural sequences happening with a tint of humour. The movie is intense and shares the life journey of Bulbbul, who you would witness sitting at different locations fanning herself with the hand fan made of peacock feathers.
In period movies the servers are shown as closer allies to the upper class upper caste daughter- in-laws, but here she was all by herself and no one is there to protect her. She is her own protector; she is her own Kaali. It is a periodic movie when the horse carts were used for riding, candles were used to light the room and forests were used as a usual way of travelling. The story taken place in Bengal Presidency; the costume designer brought the authenticity to the storyline. The men were seen wearing dhoti and women in sarees in a particular Bengali way and only after the movie goes five years forward the brother in law who returned from London, a lawyer, investigating the cases of murders of men wears trousers and vest coat.
Bulbbul played by Tripti Dimri is seen growing in the film as a person and as a character, the person who was seen playing on the trees with such fragility and is timid when younger emerges into a ferocious woman living in the big haveli all by herself. Her sister in law after the death of her husband goes to live in widow house and Bulbbul was becoming the Thakur of haveli. Though the film is set in the older times, widow remarriage was not a culture in upper caste communities and Sati was also not performed due to its boycott in 1829.
Bulbbul’s character is very strongly portrayed as a woman, who believed in taking things in her own hands. A powerful scene where she is seen as most vulnerable and the daughter-in-law helps her to wear clothes, asking her to pretend that she was not raped by her husband and familiarising her with the culture of ‘badi haveli’ which are filled with secrets and they should remain like that forever.
What adds to the movie is the use of colours during the night hours and fog that shudders the heart of the viewer and create the sense for arrival of the witch in the movie. Strangely, the movie didn’t have any woman character to be blamed as a witch unlike the real life. The reason could be because the movie is set up in Bengal where witch hunting is not prominent like many other States. Overall, the movie subtly puts across issues of violence. But can violence be challenged by violence is a question left for all of us.