Presented as a children’s movie, while in reality a heart-breaking drama, “Bhasmasur”: is a very interesting film that highlights the hardships of contemporary life in India, as much as the rural beauties of Rajasthan.

Bhasmasur” runs as part of the 9th edition of the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, that runs at 15 cinemas, across London, Birmingham and Manchester, from 21st June to 1st July, with 27 films, including features and short films, in competition. It is the largest South Asian film festival in Europe. Buy your tickets via this website, at respective cinema box offices: http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

Bhasmasur is actually a donkey, whom 10-year-old Tipu treats like a member of his family and a friend. Tipu lives with his father Dhaanu, a man considered a thief by the locals, his little sister Gunni, and his widowed aunt, with the family surviving in the borders of impoverishment. One night, Dhaanu returns from the city during the night to avoid the local moneylender Boora. Unfortunately, he is soon discovered, with Booca’s men threatening to kill him unless he gives them the money he owes. Having no alternative, he decides to go to the city and sell Bhasmasur, taking Tipu with him, since the kid is the only one the donkey obeys. During the trip, Tipu tries to make his father change his mind, but eventually their time together turns their travels into an opportunity for bonding between father and son, as they experience a number of adventures. The end, however, takes a much more dramatic turn than anyone expected.

 

Nishil Seth directs a film that takes a very basic premise, in order to present a number of social messages, regarding the current situation in India, and particularly the circumstances in the remote areas of Rajasthan. The situation of the family is the basis of this concept, as Sheth highlights the fact that they are dirt poor, to the point that father and son rarely even speak, in the former’s futile effort to make some money. Their situation is presented in the cruelest fashion during a discussion between the father and his sister, where his raw but inevitable pragmatism comes to the fore, as much as during the finale.

On a secondary level, the film functions as a coming-of-age movie, again in the cruelest way, since the bonding of father and son, which includes the two of them getting to know each other, and a number of moments where Tipu is really happy, ends with a the harsh realization of how unfair life can be.

Lastly, and on a third level, the film works as a road movie, with this aspect highlighting Shrish Tomar’s exceptional cinematography, who presents a number of images of extreme beauty in the area, with the ones in the river, the sunset and the final one being the most memorable.

Mittal Chouhan as Tipu is quite convincing in portraying his character’s frustration, as much as his longing for love from his father and his hopeful nature. Imran Rashedd as Dhaanu is impressive as a man cornered by life to a place he cannot escape. Their chemistry is also great, while their performances reach their apogee in a number of intimate moments and during the finale.

“Bhasmasur” is a visually impressive film that manages to make a rather harsh but realistic comment through a combination of artfulness and pragmatism.

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