Bujji Ila Raa is a shamelessly exploitative thriller on child trafficking
Between the theatrical performances and obstreperous plot points that scream for attention, Bujji Ila Raa feels like an exercise in savage self-abuse.
For those interested in seeing a grim worrisome social issue being broken down to a cheap silly thriller, the kind that is even more exploitative than the issue it goes into, then by all means go into Bujji Ila Raa. It is the Telugu equivalent of thriller-porn, hellbent on generating heat and dust at every turning that the sleazy narrative takes, more bothered with creating a false sense of foreboding than in going into the problem of child trafficking with any seriousness.
The production values are shockingly low. Shots showing little girls being lifted on the road are done so clumsily that they look like amateurs dabbling with the crime for the first time. Doctors are shown talking utter garbage to parents of seriously ill children. Every grim issue is fodder for loud sensationalism, every character is a potential psychopath.
Ditto the direction. Writer-director Garudavega Anji shows a woefully low level of tact and zero sensitivity in dealing with the social issue. Come to think of it, he seems not the least concerned about the plight of kidnapped children who are lifted every day from different parts of the world. What happens to them?
This film just uses the waylaid children as a storytelling bait. Writer G Nageswara Reddy’s screenplay has more twists and turns than the road leading to hell. And don’t forget the good intentions. It is very clear that Reddy wants to tell a story which the audience cannot second-guess. In that endeavour, everything from child trafficking to schizophrenia to heart transplants, all very very worrying social problems, are brought playfully into play.
The actors seem to have been briefed to make it loud and make it look urgent. They all run around the frames trying hard to look self-important or freaked out, or both. There are two cops played by Dhanraj and Sunil (actors who seriously need a harness around their mojo) investigating the multiple disappearances of young girls.
Why are only girls aged 8 being kidnapped? Why not 9 or 10? And why does the little Andhra town have so many 8-year-old girls? Eight does seem odd.
There is no rational thought underlining the potent mix of mayhem and melodrama that the film flings into the frames with nary respect for aesthetics or common sense. The idea is to cast doubts on the integrity of every major character. Yes, no one is to be trusted in Bujji Ila Raa, least of all the writer and director who have conspired to humiliate all the bereaved parents in the world who have lost their children under gruesome circumstances.
Between the theatrical performances and obstreperous plot points that scream for attention, the film feels like an exercise in savage self-abuse.
I am surprised how indulgent the reviews are about this trashy and exploitative film, calling it fast-paced, gripping, and whatnot.
Fast-paced, yes. But where is the pace going in the race? Where is the grace? And where is the self-control that makes cinema a mirror of society? This is a film filled with cheap gimmicky twists and turns with a slasher climax that will make your stomach churn.
Child trafficking is a grave problem. But those who exploit the problem for their own reasons and profits, are the bigger enemies of a civil society. Bujji Ila Raa signals the release of that world that Yeats had imagined, of a blood-dimmed tide that the centre cannot hold. Probably, because there is no centre.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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