Director: Jagadeesan Subbu
Cast: Vikranth, Vasundara Kashyap, Rohit Pathak, Sara the Camel
Jagadeesan Subbu, who writes, directs, and shoots Bakrid, must be a contended person. The film, a sometimes funny, moving tale of a man and his animal friend, looks good, and feels good. The three departments of filmmaking he took direct charge of, have delivered well. Given that his previous film was Sigai, which looked good but did not do much in terms of story or portrayal of transgender narrative. And so I was pleasantly surprised.
Bakrid is written and directed by Jagadeesan Subbu, who also is the cinematographer. The film stars Vasundara Kashyap, Vikranth, Rohit Pathak, and others, including a camel called Sara. Produced by M10 films and edited by Ruben, it features music by D Imman.
After a dispute over land and inheritance between two brothers, Rathnam (Vikranth), the younger brother is waiting at a bank to pledge his share of the land to get an agricultural loan. He wants to return to farming even as the elder brother seems intent on selling the land off and moving to other trades. A loan is possible but Rathnam would have to put up a considerable amount of money up front to prove to the bank that the land is indeed arable. Not having any, Rathnam, with his friend Sundaram, approach a Muslim businessman–on the day of Bakrid, for a loan.
Meanwhile, we get lovely little snippets of interaction between Rathnam and his daughter Vasugi (Shruthika), and wife Geetha (Vasundara Kashyap). The family lives off the land they own, and manage to get by with what they have. But that doesn’t mean it’s all gloom. They are happy and there is genuinely some love between the three.
The “bhai” initially turns him down–it’s around Bakrid and he is short of cash. Meanwhile a truck carrying two camels arrive and the bhai has a quandary. What to do with the younger camel? Rathnam offers to take it off his hands because he has taken a liking to it, has a heart of gold, plus his daughter is learning about camels in school. Despite the fact that it’s an impulse decision, Rathnam calls Geetha to get her okay over the decision to bring a camel home. Bhai also changes his mind about the loan and gives Rathnam the money he asks for. No surety required.
Following this, it feels like fortune has taken a turn for good in Rathnam, Geetha and Vasugi’s life. They ready the land for sowing, the bank has agreed to extend them the crop loan, they get two cows to give the camel some company and life seems much brighter than it was just a few months ago. Vasugi and Sara–short for Sarangan, Rathnam’s father–also bond and Sara is the draw of the village.
At this point, Sara falls ill. And so the family calls in the village veterinarian–MS Bhaskar in a great little cameo. The vet diagnoses the problem as that of diet: the camel has been fed pure south Indian vegetarian food consisting of leaves, grass, ragi mudde, dosa and the like. The vet also says that this environment–idyllic Tamil Nadu–is a big contrast to its natural Rajasthani desert habitat.
And thus begins the big adventure. Rathnam locates a truck and driver willing to take Sara all the way to Rajasthan. The truck driver plots to sell the camel midway during the journey, and use that to settle some debts. However Sara has grown attached to Rathnam and will not let him get away. So Rathnam, truck driver, the cleaner, and Sara travel across India.
On the way they meet Gaurakshaks who, not satisfied with lynching cow transporters, captures the truck with Sara and beat up Rathnam and gang. The police are involved, Sara goes missing but returns, and Rathnam and Sara walk across Maharastra to reach Rajasthan. And have further adventures, meet people, including a white man who goes out of the way to help Rathnam.
Tamil cinema seems to regularly talk about current things no other cinema industry dares mention. In Bakrid it is Gaurakshaks and cow-related lynchings. Although it seemed to pull its punches a bit, deciding to stop at a few beatings and then bringing in the police, who are reluctant about the whole thing. Still, marks for effort.
The other people and characters have plausible, believable character arcs. The lorry driver–Rohit Pathak, goes from reluctant accomplice to enthusiastic enabler, to frightened, beaten up colleague over the journey. From wanting money to transport Sara, to helping Rathnam with money and putting him on a bus home after things go belly up at the Police station, he finds redemption and was my favourite character in the film.
And the white man who speaks Tamil, and takes the extra effort to help a fellow traveller. Such a pity the actor playing the character, and the dubbing artiste giving him his voice, almost turn the role into a travesty. A more seasoned actor would have added gravitas to that role.
And Rathnam’s elder brother too finds a bit of redemption. When Rathnam is off, he sees the field of rice withering, and giving life to Vallalaar’s saying, he too wilts and takes on the task of watering and managing the harvest.
The only niggle in an otherwise good looking film, is that shadow of the drone camera in one or two aerial shots.
The Bakrid review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.