Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain (English, Hindi) - Review

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

Horrific real-life disaster, engaging film. And therein lies the irony of human nature.



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Wogma Review

What can you say about a film made on a true-life disaster? Not a natural disaster. A disaster created more by human apathy than by greed; more by turning a blind eye to the things you can fix than keeping yourself covered; more by believing you are doing the right thing than by convincing yourself that you did your due diligence; more by shirking your responsibilities than by being unapologetic about your negligences. The incident itself was of course unfortunate, and Bhopal - A Prayer for Rain brings about the events that led up to the eventual disaster in an engaging format.

That's the problem with commenting about such films. People died and are suffering 30 years later. And how what I have to say is that the film was "engaging". What do I say? Rajpal Yadav and Tannishta Chatterjee did a wonderful job of playing Dilip, a Carbider and Leela, his wife as representatives of thousands of workers/families who died in the gas leak and its aftermath?

Sure, the camerawork created claustrophobia and not only in the climax scenes. Throughout the film there is a sense of foreboding, a feeling that you are crammed in place which you can't get out of. This comes through even in the long shots of the slum areas and the city of Bhopal in general. It is interesting indeed that director, Ravi Kumar picked a story format over making a documentary. In fact, he adds a touch of dark humor too, in the beginning.

The stories of Dilip, Leela and a few more characters which are based on real-life characters keep things as close to reality as possible. Though Warren Anderson's character seemed rather muted and ambiguous through the film. It was difficult to make out what his stand was, maybe a good shade of grey that he really was. Yet, it didn't feel complete.

But, the film gives you space to absorb. Not only the technical details - which I am sure they must've over-simplified for the sake of consumption/or because of lack of available data - but also the dynamics that go on in a real life situation. Between politicians and businessmen, between workers and superiors, across races.

As you see the Indians on-screen being enamored by anything American, you try to discount the fact that this was 30 years ago, and Indians were indeed in awe of any human with white skin. And then, you wonder. Would my blood boil less as the end credits rolled, if Union Carbide was an Indian company? Does it matter that one of the main reasons (as pointed out in the film) for the disaster was because of an Indian solution, a (jugaad of sorts? Are the senior employees, Indians included, less responsible for the gross negligence that they allowed?

And then, you wonder, so what if I get the answers to my questions. What will change? What will I do? The fact that the film made me think, is its success, of course.

As I walked out of the theater, I overheard a young girl say over her phone, "Oh I need to take a break, I just saw a very sad film." Should I then be saddened further because my cynicism was just reinforced? Or should I be happy that at least the girl came down to see this film? How does one respond to such a film? At the very least by watching it first?

~ ~ ~

ps. I saw the Hindi version of the film. I must say Martin Sheen speaking in Hindi is very distracting. But, most of the characters are Indians, so it's not that bad once you get past the dubbing.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: No physical fights. But people are dying because of a gas leak
  • Language: clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: none
  • Concept: The story of Union Carbide's gas leak.
  • General Look and Feel: Grim and dusty.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story:
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 3.5
  • Dialogues: 3
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director:
  • Lyrics:

Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain - Movie Details

Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain - Trailer

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