Bittu Movie Review Rating: 4/5 Stars (Four Stars!)
Star Cast: Rani Kumari, Renu Kumari, Saurabh Saraswat and ensemble
Director: Karishma Dev Dube
What’s Good: the fact that there is a meaty story to dig our teeth in and a message to move you at the same time.
What’s Bad: The pace does bother initially. A deeper dive into the backgrounds these girls came from would have set up the characters more.
Loo Break: You definitely can hold that for 16 minutes. Consult a doctor if you can’t.
Watch or Not?: You must.
Bittu and Chand are best friends who are dealing with childhood in a landscape that seems to have been left behind in the race to urbanisation. While Bittu is a headstrong girl who knows her ways, she is also not so good at studies. When one day Chand decides to laugh at her with the class when Bittu cannot answer a question, a rift in their friendship is formed. What it results into is a tragedy that one cannot even imagine.
Bittu Movie Review: Script Analysis
Filmmakers now have rediscovered a weapon of talking about an issue through a humane story that would speak to masses and not making it preachy. In Bittu’s case, we see two friends and how they are dealing with their life in a town that is isolated from the world that is fast progressing. Bittu doesn’t promise moon and stars; it just tells the story of a tragic day that took a turn for the worse.
Writer-director Karishma Dev Dube, who made Bittu as her thesis film, takes inspiration from a 2013 case that happened in Bihar. Around 29 kids died, and several fell ill in a primary school after eating their mid-day meal contaminated with pesticide. With her short that runs for almost 17 minutes, Dube tries to touch as many aspects as possible. The negligence in government schools, kids are growing up in an environment that is not appropriate, the divide between the haves and have nots through kids, etc.
Bittu and Chand are introduced to us while they sing a trashy song and dance on it for bystanders to make some quick bucks. The bystanders enjoy the show, but none is woke enough to stop the girls, or tell them that it isn’t appropriate. Cut to; they reach the school.
Writer Dube carefully manages to show us the divide through kids. While the rest of the class has kids in a neat and clean uniform, oiled and perfectly parted hair, Bittu and Chand are untidy. That also hints to their backgrounds. There is a teacher who is trying hard to tame the wild soul Bittu is, but to no visible results. Here she carefully makes a point that not every adult in this universe is a devil, or a negligent bystander; there are people trying to speed up the progress of this landscape.
I don’t want to give out the plot more, and you must experience. As the doomsday unfolds, it is a testimony of how negligence leads to a tragedy that can’t be undone. How a bond is broken and that it meant the world to someone. While friendship and the loss of it take centre stage, it isn’t the only thing that this film wants to address. There is also the luck factor that is too strong here. The film for the unversed has won Silver medal in the Narrative (Domestic Film Schools) category at the 47th Student Academy Awards 2020.
Bittu Movie Review: Star Performance
Bittu is too blessed when it comes to casting. Karishma chooses to put authenticity over names, or maybe that was her only option but the best one. Rani Kumari (Bittu) plays the part like no one’s watching. There seems to be a certain backstory to her arrogance and stubbornness and she portrays it nicely. Renu Kumari is the zen point here, a silent partner who joins her friend in her chronicles. She manages to bring the mystery and when it is revealed, be ready.
Saurabh Saraswat is the only strong voice in this world. His character is written in a way that it looks he has time travelled from the future and trying to prepare these kids to face it. The actor manages to impress in the limited space.
Bittu Movie Review: Direction, Music
Bittu is a challenging 16-minute ride to direct. There are little to no dialogues. It is the expressions and emotions that take centre stage. Bittu and Chand are not making concrete statements or mouthing pre-written lines. They are given freehand in this wide landscape, and they spread like a wildfire. Karishma takes the documentary route in setting the vibe of the film. The camera becomes you who is following this little girl as she spends the day.
To help Karishma Dev achieve this is her brilliant cinematographer Shreya Dev Dube, who manages to zoom in and zoom out at the right time. When the frame has people, she decides to super zoom in on their faces, clothes, postures and sets their tone without really wasting time in giving them another segment to introduce themselves. Similarly, when to show the void or the emptiness that this landscape suffers from, she puts her camera on the widest angle and manages to capture Bittu against the background of this massive mountains. The colour pallet used does wonders too.
Music is tuned in at the right time to create the maximum effect and it works in Dev’s favour.
Bittu Movie Review: The Last Word
Bittu is a story that needs to be told for two purposes. One to understand that not every corner of the world is in the same pace to progress, and second, in understanding how the system consists of negligent and incapable people who can burn the world, without anyone even noticing it. Also, names like Guneet Monga, Ekta Kapoor and Tahira Kashyap are backing the film now, maybe that is a concrete reason for you to watch.
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