Clean Slate Films and Anushka Sharma seek to spook us again with this brand new production of theirs called 'Bulbbul', after 'Pari, Phillauri' and the ghost-less but more chilling 'Paatal Lok'.
The latest ghost to haunt our TV sets is Bulbbul, who prefers to go by a daak naam. Imagine appearing out of the blue with a sudden screech as all good ghouls do and have the victim call you by your pet name! An anti-climax to both parties.
Clean Slate Films and Anushka Sharma seek to spook us again with this brand new production of theirs called Bulbbul, after Pari, Phillauri and the ghost-less but more chilling Paatal Lok. Set decades ago in Bengal, the spectre is a bloodthirsty feminist out to avenge all wronged women. Shh... big secrets in big houses, we are told ominously. As opposed to the tiny secrets in our 2BHKs today, we presume.
There is really no suspense once the killing spree is midway, so the only spoiler alert here is that Bulbbul is an actual ghost only for a minute just before ‘The End’. The rest of the time she is a living person who eats paan, drinks sherbet, smokes bidi, and speaks and smiles knowingly whenever the ghost is mentioned, making it very clear to the viewers, if not her fellow actors, that she is The One.
And while everyone around her, including her best friend The Doctor, look clueless about who is up to so much mischief, we are, alas, left with a ghost who can’t take us by surprise. Except in the costume department. Clad in elaborate brocade saris most of the time, like a Meena Kumari in Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam sitting vacuously but respectably in a large haveli, she is a scantily clad Sunny Leone swinging from trees like Tarzan in her ghost avatar. More ready for an item number than the gory business at hand.
There is some mystery about her feet – are they on back to front? Such literal interpretations of preta atmas’ lack of shoes, complete with close-ups of her naked feet running forward when they are fixed backward at the ankle is confusing to say the least. Must have taken her quite a few attempts at reaching a goal to realize she has to run back to get ahead.
The biggest surprise is her dining habits after the murder. Here is one wannabe ghost tucking into the remains of her victims with all the gusto of a gourmand. There is blood everywhere after each ‘haunting’. In terms of our current garbage segregation lingo, more wet waste than dry waste.
Bulbbul is haunted, in turn, by the sheer idiocy of her boyfriends, who will not see what is staring them in the face. Short of pointing to herself when the ‘ghost’ is mentioned, Bulbbul makes do with arch repartee and outright giggling. But no, the IQ of her men remains legend.
Bulbbul is like an apprentice ghost, one who is practising to be one, so she can set the patriarchy right. Armed with a creepy smile she hangs around large rooms, building her supernatural reputation murder by murder. But not before consulting a numerologist on the extra B in her name. Even ghosts need good luck.Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.