Coming from a poor and destitute family, Urvashi is encouraged by her mother, Shanta (Sualbha Deshpande) to be on more than friendly terms with a much older male, Keshav Dalvi (Amol Palekar... See full summary »

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(inspired by the book "Sangtye Aika") (as the late Hansa Wadkar), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Anant Nag ...
Rajan
...
Sunil Verma
...
Vinayak Kale
...
Keshav Dalvi
...
Film producer
...
Shanta
Baby Ruksana
B.V. Karanth
...
Mrs. Kale
Kusum Deshpande
Rekha Sabnis
Baby Bitto
Savha Bajaj
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Storyline

Coming from a poor and destitute family, Urvashi is encouraged by her mother, Shanta (Sualbha Deshpande) to be on more than friendly terms with a much older male, Keshav Dalvi (Amol Palekar). Keshav takes a liking to young Urvashi, and encourages her to explore her talents in films, which she does, and does gain popularity, starting as a singer, then accomplishing herself as an actress/singer. She decides to marry Keshav, only to be discouraged by her own mother, but she is strong-willed, and does marry him. She has a baby girl after the marriage, but feels stifled and oppressed with Keshav, and has affairs with her co-star Rajan (Anant Nag), a film producer, Sunil Verma (Naseeruddin Shah), but ends up dissatisfied. Then she meets wealthy Vinayak Kale (Amrish Puri), and decides to settle down with him, little knowing that he is already married to another woman, and also has a son. By the time she finds out it is too late, she has already been accepted in his household, and any woman, ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

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Drama

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Release Date:

11 November 1977 (India)  »

Also Known As:

The Role  »

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1.37 : 1
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Was the first film after the rural oppression trilogy by Benegal. See more »

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Referenced in Jhaptal See more »

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User Reviews

 
Authentic, haunting, brilliant and fascinating!
30 November 2009 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

Shyam Benegal's Bhumika: The Role is an example of superb, masterful cinema. The film relates the life story of a troubled actress named Usha Dalvi from her very childhood to her adulthood, and slowly follows her trials and tribulations, her coming of age, her relationships with different men, her despair, and finally her self-acceptance. Benegal partly adopts the style of Satyajit Ray's film-making and the film's first sequences remind me of Ray's Pather Panchali in the way it presents the childhood of Usha. These scenes are extremely well shot and let the viewer identify with the little girl and sense her simple and miserable yet memorable childhood. Benegal's direction is absolutely brilliant. Everything in the film represents his unique technique. The use of black and white photography for sequences from the past, the static camera work, the silent moments, the attention to the smallest of characters - all contribute to the film's dark, deep and serious tone and make the narrative style believable. The screenplay is fantastic and the story unfolds through undertones in a simple and natural way. It is all about subtlety and striking realism.

Smita Patil is simply exceptional as the main protagonist Usha. She gets a role which is both demanding and difficult and plays it with complete conviction, ease and intensity. Her character has many shades and that's where the film probably takes its title from. Every new phase in her personal life is similar to the previous - she virtually gets the same script, the same role. She played many roles but never could play her own self. We really feel for Usha as we witness her experiences, confusion and dissatisfaction from life, and that's thanks to Patil, who displays something very disturbing within her. She naturally shows the growth of her character and the power of her emotions through her expressive eyes and stark silence. This really is an unforgettable portrait of a celebrated yet unhappy woman from one of the most talented actresses ever. Apart from Patil, who is the film's owner, every actor without exception stands out. Sulabha Deshpande is excellent as Usha's mother, Amol Palekar is incredible as her devious husband. Naseeruddin Shah, Anant Singh, Amrish Puri and Dina Pathak are equally competent although they have much smaller parts.

All-in-all, Bhumika is an extraordinary piece. The film can be described as a drama but it is dramatic in a very different way from the usual Hindi films. As can be expected from a Shyam Benegal picture, you won't find here the dramatisation and the clichés one uses to associate with Hindi movies, there are no songs (only in film shooting scenes), no tear-jerking or larger-than-life dialogues, it is genuinely real, and although many would find it overly slow and banal, it is thoroughly fascinating and only grows on the viewer as it goes by. It not only gives us an insight into the complexity of human nature and relationships, but also a glimpse into the world of cinema and the life in the rural India with all its principles, values and difficulties, whether social or financial. It is one of the film's strongest depictions. Usha's transitions from one life to another, from one house to another, from one man to another, and the fact that every story is similar to another and that she herself does not know what she wants and how to deal with it really explain the meaning of the film. All of us have many roles to play, and at some point we will have to decide what role remains the most crucial to us and how we want to play it. This may be the main point of this rare gem.


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