Direction: Janaki Vishwanathan
Actors: Anshuman Jha, Asif Basra, Faiz Khan, Yoshika Verma
Ye Hai Bakrapur is a social satire, set against the backdrop of rural India. The film’s story revolves around the family of the Qureshis and their pet goat.
Remember the ‘milk miracle’ of the 1990s? Apparently when a spoonful of milk was held up to the trunk of a Ganesha idol in Delhi, the deity ‘drank’ it. Soon, believers all over the country were offering milk to Ganesha, and the statues were gladly obliging. A scientific explanation was found, of course, but not before Delhi’s milk sellers did roaring business, and NRIs had lined up outside temples abroad as well.
Replace milk-hungry Ganesha with a “farishta” goat, and the absurd premise of Yeh Hai Bakrapur seems only too real. Young Zulfi loves the family goat, Shahrukh (an oblique reference to the Bollywood star), and is desperate to keep it from being sold. Jaafar (Anshuman Jha), the witty hairstylist – city-trained, no less, and in love with Zulfi’s sister – comes to the rescue. Not to spoil the plot, a miracle feature emerges and the goat isn’t sold.
Read: Yeh Hai Bakrapur trailer, where Shahrukh is a bakra
But in a bizarre turn of events, he is turned into a star overnight. He even gets a pair of cheap, blue shades, because, you know, all stars must wear shades. The family cashes in and media reports spread, not unlike in the ‘milk-drinking’ Ganesha incident.
The satire isn’t on blind faith alone, but on the construct of celebrity too. Not unlike a Bollywood star, Shahrukh is soon being invited to store openings, aiding candidates in election campaigns, even being considered to endorse products. That the goat has no agency of its own only makes it the more ridiculous.
Read: The script of Ye Hai Bakrapur blew me away, says Anshuman Jha
Of course, no celebrity is without his share of controversy and neither, it turns out, is Shahrukh. With a premise this absurd, you expect the madness and chaos to reach a crescendo. Unfortunately, this story remains painfully simplistic, almost parable-like.
Also, in highlighting the satire, the character-building gets sacrificed. The characters feel real, but one-dimensional. It doesn’t help that the support cast runs through its lines monotonously.
Still, Bakrapur has more originality than your run-of-the-mill star-studded film. Now if only the goat could make a Bollywood career out of this, the satire would be complete.