Long hair, inverted feet, hungry for blood, seeking revenge — these attributes are not only used to paint a scary description of the ‘chudail’, or demon woman, in Anvita Dutt’s directorial debut “Bulbbul“, but they also serve to take away the negative connotation to the word, lending a feminist narrative.
Anvita has used all those traits to tell a tale of a wronged woman who takes a ‘devi’ (goddess) avatar to avenge people for taking away her innocence, and then standing up for oppressed and abused women.
“Whenever a person is not understood, or does not fit a box, the person becomes a ‘chudail’,” the Bulbbul director told IANS.
That is the definition she aims to change through her supernatural thriller film “Bulbbul“. “Actually, more than (being used as an) abuse, little girls in India hear the term a lot. When you run down the corridor, then you are a ‘chudail’. When your braids have opened up, you are a ‘chudail’. When you speak loudly, you are a ‘chudail’. When you are not listening to someone, you are a ‘chudail’. So whenever a person who is not understood, who does not fit any box, becomes a chudail,” Anvita told IANS when asked about the film taking away the negative connotation from the term.
“The whole thing that I possibly want to say is that… First, one is a lack of understanding and acceptance. Whenever you don’t understand something, you’re afraid of it … The moment you have an explanation, it becomes not so scary. And the second thing is that you create the demons, the very demons that come back to haunt you. You create them. So you are responsible for the demons that haunt,” she added.
“Bulbbul”, a period drama, traverses the journey of a young girl named Bulbbul from innocence to strength, with the looming shadow of the legend of a ‘chudail’.
Despite being set in the late 19th century, the film has a vein, which resonates with the present. That’s because, as Anvita puts it, the writer is contemporary.
“The things that make sense to me, that are relevant to me, that emotionally move me, will be in the story. I think whenever you read a fantasy of any sort, you will realise that even if the story is set in another world or another planet, the emotions and the messaging is all very contemporary. They are talking about things that are relevant today, regardless of where they are set in,” said the longtime lyricist-dialogue writer.
“So, I think it was bound to happen,” she added.
The period drama, featuring Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Rahul Bose, Paoli Dam and Parambrata Chatterjee, released on Netflix on June 24. The film is produced by Anushka and her brother Karnesh Ssharma.