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Homeentertainment‘Ab Toh Sab Bhagwan Bharose’: An incomplete exploration of faith and religion

‘Ab Toh Sab Bhagwan Bharose’: An incomplete exploration of faith and religion

Ab Toh Sab Bhagwan Bharose2023Director:Shiladitya BoraCast:Satendra Soni, Sparsh Suman, Vinay Pathak, Masumeh Makhija

There is a poignant sequence in Ab Toh Sab Bhagwan Bharose where two Hindu boys cross a river to reach a Muslim village. Their goal is to buy a kite. They get a kite from a vendor, and on their way back, they spot two Muslim boys who pin them to a kite challenge. Overtaken with pride, Bhola, one of the Hindu boys, agrees. As the kite fight begins, Bhola and his friend start chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

To their ultimate disappointment, they lose. Just as kids do in such moments of small glory, there is some teasing from the other side, which invites a near-murderous rage in Bhola. How did that anger rise up in a child that he lost all his humanity to thrash another boy of his age? Director Shiladitya Bora tries exploring this in the 90-minute film run.

Bhola and Shambhu are two kids living in 1989 in a village where faith is everything. As an elder figure explains to them in another thoughtful sequence, their village is run not on the dreams of the government but on the whims of God. It is through their innocent gaze that we set ourselves up to understand where the film is based.

Bhola slowly understands faith and its changing nature around him. One day, using the same faith, he gets radicalized into believing utopian ideas about his religion’s lost glory. The film tries very well to extrapolate some important questions about how scientific temperament is absent from every tenet of religion. It necessitates the importance of education in driving the seeds of rationality in the young.

However, it doesn’t quite manage to make its point. Things sail through in the first half, but the second half is just a struggling affair. There are striking metaphors, well-written scenes, soul-piercing music, and some beautiful performances. But none of it connects well. The filmmaking is just not mature enough for these thoughtful ideas to find any shape. If it had been given more time to let the story proceed by focusing on one narrative thread, the film would have managed to do better.

Nevertheless, it is an honest attempt to explore the rise of polarisation in India. It remains reflective as it tries to uncover a time in history where the soft faith of the old generation gave way to a more radical notion based on hate. However, it lacks an evocative punch, which would send it on a path for completion. In all its sincerity, Ab Toh Sab Bhagwan Bharose remains a poem that started with power but lost its essence along the way.

(Published 14 October 2023, 08:29 IST)

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