Faith can help people find an inner resolve previously unknown. A belief in something higher can help give someone aspirations. But, on the flip side, horrific deeds are carried out by people who are convinced their way of thinking is the only right one. Atrocities done in this or that religion’s name plague the world to this day. These themes are at the core of Bhagwan Bharose, directed by Shiladitya Bora and written by Mohit Chauhan and Sudhakar Nilmani Eklavya.
Set in India during the 1980s, the drama follows two best friends as their world starkly changes. Bhola (Satendra Soni) and Shambhu (Sparsh Suman) live in a small Indian town where religion rules the day. Their days are spent being told religious stories, and the elders tell them that demons live on the other side of the river. The one atheist in town is scorned by everyone, save for Nana Babu (Vinay Pathak), Bhola’s grandfather.
When Bhola’s father returns from a long job on the road, he sends his son back to school. The catch is the school is quite a walk away. Bhola hates it, as everything he’s being caught contradicts the religion he’s so versed in. Shambhu is okay with school but is witness to his best friend becoming more and more radicalized. The news is not helping matters, which chronicles the attacks happening in the wake of a sacred temple being destroyed.
“…is witness to his best friend becoming more and more radicalized.”
Bhagwan Bharose is an absorbing slice of life. It is filled with equal parts heart, humor, and drama. The true point of the film only manifests itself at the very end. But, whoa, what an emotional wallop it packs. The screenwriters and director have something they are passionate about and convey it with heart.
The film is simply beautiful to behold. The walk to school is scenic, lined with trees and a river on one side. Despite the high tensions that accompany the trek to or from school, the journey is simply stunning. Add on to the precise editing, and it just goes to show that India really is home to some of the best filmmakers anywhere in the world.
Of course, the cast of Bhagwan Bharose is also splendid. Soni internalizes emotional up and down swings with dignity. His refusal to go home despite the late hour due to a fight with God is most believable. Suman has the less showy role, mainly reacting to what his on-screen pal does. But his wide-eyed demeanor and innocence are easy to buy into. As Bhola’s mother, Masumeh Makhija is radiant and makes the most of the role.
Bhagwan Bharose fully envelopes everyone watching into its character lives. It is fascinating to see how these young kids react to the world around them and learn. The film proves that everyone, despite our differences, is human and needs to be treated with respect and dignity.
"…proves that everyone, despite our differences, is human and needs to be treated with respect and dignity."