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468 Ratings

Bhumika: The Role

Directed by Shyam Benegal
India, 1977


The film follows the life of a successful film star, revealing her increasing alienation in a role both glamorized and patronized by society. After being forced into show business by her family, she spends her time between studios and disastrous love affairs, and feels more and more dissatisfied.

Our take

Featuring Smita Patil’s moving portrayal of an unconventional and fascinating actor, Bhumika is masterful work by Shyam Benegal. Based on the life of 40s Marathi stage actor Hansa Wadkar, this film is a fine study of feminism, male gaze and the price one has to pay for personal freedom.

Bhumika: The Role Directed by Shyam Benegal

Critics reviews

Through Bhumika, Benegal makes a feminist reclamation of the history of the Hindi film industry. As messy and complicated as Hansa and Usha are, they are also the mothers of a history that is equally messy. In their stories, we find a resurrection of the shoulders South Asian film history and feminism stand upon and a resurrection of the many intertwined ways in which these two histories draw from one another.
June 08, 2020
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Benegal keeps jumping back and forth between different periods in her life, with the same problem cropping up – she feels free while on stage and inevitably trapped off of it. BHUMIKA is a grand weeper with a detailed eye for period detail.
September 14, 2018
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The film features a bold, nonchronological structure that moves between Usha’s present and past (the former shot in color, the latter in black-and-white or sepia tone) and a stunning lead performance by Smita Patil, one of the most renowned Indian actresses of her generation.
July 29, 2016
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