Bhagwan Bharose (For Heaven’s Sake) (2023)
Bhagwan Bharose (For Heaven’s Sake) (2023)

Genre: Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.

Release Date: May 13th, 2023 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Shiladitya Bora Actors: Satendra Soni, Sparsh Suman, Vinay Pathak, Masumeh Makhija, Shrikant Verma, Sawan Tank, Manu Rishi Chadha

 


 

“L

ittle troublemakers.” Bhola (Satendra Soni) and Shambhu (Sparsh Suman) discuss the Snake World and other realms that exist deep below the earth, at the bottom of which is Hell itself. Unafraid, they ponder what it must be like, going so far as to wish to one day see it for themselves. In 1989 India, the two young boys have other things to occupy their minds as well, such as a kite-flying competition that Bhola hopes to win, as he’s encouraged to by his grandpa (Vinay Pathak).

All the while, in their tiny village, Bhola and his constant companion witness and participate in plenty of religious enterprises, which soon have a greater impact than even the frivolities of childhood. Considerable contrasts arise, partly due to his father’s pragmatism and his mother’s spirituality – which clash with ethical concepts around fasting, praying, traditional rituals, reincarnation, biblical tales (and mythology), and sinning – while the presence of a single atheist (a demon, of course) in town and a teacher who playfully jokes about God makes Bhola further question his faith. When his father (Sawan Tank), who spends most of his time in Mumbai working at a factory, worries about the boy’s future, particularly with his education, Bhola’s perspective only disagrees to a greater extent with his mother (Masumeh Makhija), who prefers to pray and let divine entities handle the rest. “Everything is in God’s hands.”

Though the cinematography is acceptable, the acting is convincing, and the locations are authentic (technical elements are all sufficient), the story crawls, taking in the frustrating minutia of everyday existence in a poor Indian community. From watching a new television set to attending classes to assembling kites to simply walking between various places, the establishment of patterns (seemingly unimportant details) are exhaustive. With minimal actions that come across as cinematic, the bulk of the film is comprised of conversations and trifling misadventures, which play out in a painfully realistic yet exceptionally uninteresting manner, crafting a mundane coming-of-age childhood drama.

The main premise of “Bhagwan Bharose” (translated as “For Heaven’s Sake”) involves education and impressionable minds, as Bhola and Shambhu begin to question the fables they’re constantly told and the religious customs they practice, which constitute the brunt of their beliefs. Could evolution and solar eclipses have a basis in science? Or are they wild stories told by confused heretics? And of most consequence is if what they learn in school will enable them to succeed in a vaster environment – and if, whether they understand it or not, it will save them from a beating at the hands of strict instructors and elders.

“How dare you question God!” Bhola is awfully young to be having an existential crisis, but the commonplace occurrences he sees tend to test his resolve; violent repercussions and tragedies that stem from those routines only push against the embracing of religious teachings. It’s ultimately a parable about the futility of dogma in the face of theological scrutiny, the dangers of indoctrination on malleable youths, and how blindly adhering to religious ideals generally fails to advance an individual’s station in a broader society, should that transcendence be desired – all of which are undoubtedly amusing notions. But the presentation here is one of regular tedium; no matter the importance of this subject, or the need for certain audiences to absorb it, this production is a tremendous bore.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10