Classic from Shyam Benegal, Bhumika (1977) is all about Smita Patil, unarguably one of the best performances by an actress in Bollywood, barring Rekha in Umrao Jaan, Smita Patil shines brilliantly in this movie a mesmerizing performance by her. This movie is all about her, she carries it on her shoulders. It is loosely based on the life and times of a Marathi stage & film actress Hansa Wadkar. A strong woman centric movie, Usha (Smita Patil) is a daring and rebellious even in her younger days in a small village with her doting mother (Sulabha Deshpande in a masterful performance) and her grandmother who teaches her classical songs. The girl who played young Smita Patil has done a brilliant performance, almost realistic, don’t know her name though. Keshav (Amol Palekar) in a different role from his usual light humour characters, is the one who is enamoured of Usha and marries her after making her pregnant. After her father’s untimely death, they all move to the city to search for a suitable singing role for the child Usha. Keshav is a Dalit and Usha and family are Brahmins so her marrying Amol becomes an emotive issue with her mother. Keshav throws her into the movies one after another whereas she yearns for a regular housewife life. They have a kid and one scene when Usha is forced to attend one filmi party but her daughter clings to her pleading with her not to go, was a heart rending scene. Usha soon sees through Keshav’s greed and suspicion when she gets close to another film star Anant Nag. One after another men fail her, including Nazeeruddin Shah who is a self centred & egotistical director with fancy ideas about suicide. Amrish Puri a rich businessman but with strong patriarchial views not allowing Usha to go out of the household, whereas she has always been a rebellious strong free wheeling woman. There is one beautiful classical song by Saraswati Rane (Baju re Mondar Baju re) , who i discover is the daughter of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and sister to Hirabai Barodekar. No wonder Smita Patil got the National Award for the best actress for this role. It was richly deserved. Such a beautiful talent, lost so early.

Picture taken from the internet not with an intention to violating copyright.

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