I was invited by Indiblogger and the makers of Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain to attend the preview of the movie on Tuesday. I must admit that I had high expectations from the docu-drama, as it describes itself. It had a stellar cast and a compelling issue, basically two of the most important ingredients for the success of any movie. But did it live up to the hype? Well, the answer is yes and no.
The movie begins with Dilip (played by Rajpal Yadav) trying to pull his auto with great difficulty to take his overweight passenger home. As expected, the rickshaw cannot bear his weight and it collapses. While he helps the man get on to his weight, a bunch of children decide to steal his broken wheel, leaving him with no other asset to fall back on. His life takes a turn for better, when he is employed by Union Carbide as an odd jobs man. When one of the workers in the factory dies, Dilip is picked up as his replacement and is given a uniform that he wears with great pride.
Motwani, a local journalist, who is on the lookout for the next sensational stories, runs into the doctor who had treated the factory worker to know his cause of death. The doctor’s answer convinces him that that there is something very wrong with the factory.
The movie then shifts focus to Warren Anderson who is interested in sales figures and not safety protocols, both of which that Union Carbide factory in Bhopal lacks. He comes over to India and is interviewed by student reporter (Mischa Barton) on Motwani’s insistence.
Up to this point the movie has been beautifully made and the plot keeps you engaged. I did not see the point of Mischa’s character as it does not add much to the story line and I found the part unnecessary. Anderson decides to bribe a local politician to merge three tanks full of poisonous chemicals to increase production, even though the company already has a huge surplus of pesticides and other chemicals because of lack of demand by the farmers who are still awaiting the monsoon.
Everything falls apart after this decision and the film shows what exactly went wrong on that fateful night. However, here is when the movie loses its steam. The scenes that could be intense and could move a person to tears are lackluster. I could not connect with the emotions that were playing in front of me as they seemed to be overtly dramatized. The story, which initially had started with Dilip’s struggle suddenly shifts focus to the Bhopal Gas tragedy and the transition is not all that smooth.
The movie has its heart in the right place; it tries to show both the perspectives of the tragedy, but it fails to evoke the emotions that tragedy of this magnitude generally would. I particularly enjoyed Rajpal Yadav’s performance as well as that of Martin Sheen. You should watch this movie for their performances alone.
Rating: 3 out of 5
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