Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, An Experience Unbearable

on December 02, 2014 / by

30 years ago on this day, Bhopal was destroyed by the gas leak caused at an American pesticide plant Union Carbide, making it the biggest man-made industrial disasters in human history. The disaster in 1984 took over 3000 lives on a fateful night and disabling over 500000 lives over the last 30 years.

However, the fact remains that the company refused to take any responsibility for the disaster, instead blaming the plant management and workers. No apology has come to the affected neither from the American or Indian government nor from Union Carbide. After years of struggle, compensation was offered to each victim amounting to $300. Is this what a life is worth?

Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain Film Review

There have been innumerable accounts of the disaster by way of documentary, texts, notes and more. But what sets Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain apart is the human element infused in the portrayal of the tragedy, a compelling heart-wrenching tale from the point of view of a common man. 

In his very first film - a true adaption with a few cinematic liberties; director Ravi Kumar has achieved what most accomplished directors cannot. He has weaved a compelling story through an engaging screenplay to imprint the aftermath of the tragedy in your heart. 

With a performance backed ensemble cast of Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton, Kal Penn, Rajpal Yadav and Tannishtha Chatterjee; it is extremely difficult to pick the best performance. Each character has been brought together to perform naturally to make the film emotionally binding with the audiences. Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is a film that stays with you much after you leave the cinema hall.

Martin Sheen is excellent in his portrayal of Warren Anderson the Chairman of Union Carbide. What I specifically loved about the character was his vulnerability, a portrayal of a man in power and position bending rules to accomplish his dreams, yet helpless and unsure. Kal Penn as the prodding journalist who pushes boundaries to bring the truth to the forefront is perfectly apt and convincing. Though Mischa Barton as Eva Gascon doesn’t have much to do in the film, she does have a moment or two of brilliance. 

Tannishtha Chatterjee’s interpretation of Leela Kumar is beyond perfect. The wife who struggles with the day-to-day needs to the woman who is proud of her husband’s accomplishments reflects effortlessly. 

Every film has that one character who is equally important yet mostly missed while discussing it. That character for me is Rekha, the engineer’s wife played by Fagun Thakrar. As Rekha, Fagun’s journey from the fortunate to the unfortunate first, of the Union Carbide tragedy is perfectly emoted through her expressive eyes. Rekha is the one you will always see in your mind’s eye when you think about the film. 

As every soul needs a spark of life, the screen came alive with Rajpal Yadav. As I sat beside him during part of the screening, I felt him live the life of Dilip Kumar (his character) as the story unfolded. From emotions of anxiety at being unemployed to the highs of shaking hands with the boss to the love in his wife’s eyes to the pride at being bestowed with more responsibility at work were felt through the rainbow of emotions. He brought in the beauty of relationships, commitment, struggles and failure throughout with his brilliant expressions. 

The producers Seemanto Roy and Ravi Walia have done a fabulous job leaving no stone unturned, with 4 years of intense research, bringing together an ensemble cast and taking the film to a wider audience. Although you will not even want to blink during the film, the climax shall leave you in disturbing and heart-wrenching empty space. Each second leading up to the disaster instils a sense of fear and a want to protect from within. However, you will feel like a mere spectator, completely helpless at the apathy that killed so many in one night and continues to affect many more who survived. 

Who says the tragedy is over, it still continues.

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