BHOPAL: A PRAYER FOR RAIN
Sahara One Media And Entertainment Ltd. and Rising Star Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is a cinematic version of the Bhopal gas leak tragedy of December 1984 which killed thousands of people and left many more and their future generations incapacitated for life.
US-based Union Carbide starts its chemical factory in Bhopal owing to cost-effectiveness but soon, all safety norms are thrown to the winds. The factory is barely able to make profits because of which the Indians who are running it start cutting corners even at the cost of risk to the lives of workers and people living around the factory. The plant safety officer, Roy (Joy Sengupta) is very concerned about safety norms being given a go-by but the supervisor (Vinit Kumar) couldn’t care less and he even shuts off the airconditioning plant, posing a potential risk to everyone. The supervisor is aware that if he doesn’t cut down losses, the parent company in the USA would shut down the Bhopal factory. In fact, it is because of the fear of being rendered jobless that the factory workers risk their lives and report for duty every day in spite of a mishap which has claimed the life of one worker, Rakesh (Om Prakash).
Without any qualifications, Dilip (Rajpal Yadav) is given the responsibilities of Rakesh. Warren Anderson, the US-based chairman and CEO of Union Carbide, visits the Bhopal factory one day but he doesn’t do a thing about the security lapses in spite of being aware of the hazardous nature of the factory. All along, journalist Motwani (Kal Penn) has been warning people of the hazards and risks the Union Carbide plant poses but nobody has taken him seriously. He even has a visiting foreign journalist, Eva Caulfied (Mischa Barton), interview Warren Anderson when he comes to Bhopal, and publishes the interview in his newspaper to underline the risk the plant poses to people.
And then one day, the unthinkable happens. Gas fumes leak from the Bhopal factory, killing many workers in the factory and slum dwellers living in and around the factory. Eyes of the people affected by the poisonous gases begin to burn and they start vomiting and bleeding. Dr. Chandra’s (Manoj Joshi) hospital is flooded with suffering patients but the medicines are limited. The day of the gas leak is also the day when Dilip’s sister (Mamta Bhukya) is getting married.
The court case against Union Carbide goes on for years even as the unfortunate victims and families of the deceased await justice.
The film is based on a true-life incident and writers Ravi Kumar and David Brooks have written a cinematic version of the ghastly incident so beautifully that the audiences actually feel as if they have been transported to Bhopal in and around the Union Carbide plant. Their screenplay moves at a fast pace and involves the viewers completely in such a way that they begin to feel the pain of the victims. No doubt, the script is very class-appealing because of the technical jargon often used and the uni-dimensional nature of the drama. But the mass-appealing part of the film is that it moves the audience emotionally. Dialogues (penned by the duo) are absolutely stark and very natural and make a superb impact.
Rajpal Yadav plays Dilip so wonderfully that it would appear, he was born to play the role. He makes the character supremely believable. As his wife, Tannishtha Chatterjee gets limited scope but is very natural. Martin Sheen is excellent as Warren Anderson. Kal Penn leaves a lasting impression as journalist Motwani who does his job earnestly although not many take him seriously. Mischa Barton has her moments as journalist Eva Caulfield. Vinit Kumar is first-rate as the plant supervisor. In the role of safety officer Roy, Joy Sengupta is terrific. Vasanth Santosham is good as Mr. Gupta. Manoj Joshi makes his presence amply felt as Dr. Chandra. As his assistant, Venk Modur is lovely. Nimisha Shankar is extraordinary as the nurse and her expressions deserve mention. Martin Brambach and David Brooks lend able support as Union Carbide employees. Om Prakash is superb as Rakesh. In the role of Rakesh’s widow, Fagun Thakrar lives her role. Satish Kaushik acts effectively as the labour minister. Lalit Tiwari provides fine support as the moneylender. Mamta Bhukya (as Dilip’s sister), Manohar Chauhan (as her bridegroom) and Vijay Gupta (as the bridegroom’s father) are adequate. Others lend the desired support.
Ravi Kumar’s direction is outstanding. Not only has he recreated the 1984 era and the atmosphere of Bhopal effectively but has also made a humane drama from one of the most terrifying catastrophes of modern Indian history. Charlie Wuppermann and Anil Chandel’s cinematography is top of the line. Raam Shetty’s stunts are exciting. Benjamin Wallfisch’s background music is excellent. Sting and Anoushka Shankar’s music goes well with the film’s mood. Sukant Panigrahy and R. Ravindar’s production designing is extraordinary. Editing (by Chris Gill and Maria Valenta) is very sharp. Production values and other technical aspects are of a very high standard.
On the whole, Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is an excellent film which moves the viewer. It will come in for a lot of critical acclaim but, unfortunately, its box-office results will not match its merits and the acclaim because of lack of face value and awareness among the public. The film deserves entertainment tax-exemption in every state of India.