Bhumika (1977)

 ●  Hindi ● 2 hrs 24 mins

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Benegal abandons his rural settings for this cinephile fantasy based on the autobiography of the Marathi/Hindi actress Hansa Wadkar. Usha (Patil, in the role of Wadkar) is taught music by her grandmother. She tries to become a film actress as a child and eventually becomes a star in adulthood, a trajectory inflected by the four men she meets at various points in her life: husband Keshav (Palekar), narcissistic male co-star Rajan (Nag), effete film-maker Sunil Verma (Shah) with whom she makes an unsuccessful suicide pact, and the landowner Kale (Puri) whose second wife she becomes. Many aspects of the story allow the question of women’s oppression to be raised although, tragically, Usha seems to end up identifying herself with the romantic cliche of the self-sacrificing heroine, defeated by the patriarchal mores that have weighed on her since early childhood (shown in sepia flashbacks). The film opens with scenes alluding to the making of Wadkar’s best-known title, Lokshahir Ramjoshi (1947). The music test which Govindrao Tembe and Baburao Painter gave the young Wadkar at Shalini Cinetone is reconstructed, a rather poignant moment since Wadkar hates the very music which elevates her to stardom. However, film history is treated with poetic licence as the story roams through some pre-WW2 genres: Bombay Talkies is evoked through Sunila Pradhan who is made up to look like Devika Rani; this is followed by quotes from Kismet (1943) and allusions to Wadia’s masked stunt films. The soundtrack uses radio broadcasts about Pearl Harbor and other events to provide historical markers.

Cast: Anant Nag, Smita Patil

Crew: Shyam Benegal (Director), Govind Nihalani (Director of Photography), Vanraj Bhatia (Music Director)

Rating: A (India)

Genres: Drama

Release Dates: 19 Nov 1977 (India)

Hindi Name: भूमिका

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Did you know? The film is based on the life of Hansa Wadkar, well-known Marathi stage and screen actress of the 1940s. Read More
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as Rajan
as Usha
as Keshav Dalvi
as Vinayak Kale
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actor
as Sunil Verma
Supporting Actor
as Shanta
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actor




Production Company
Executive Producer


Dialogue Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Sound Re-recording Mixer


Art Director


Assistant Editor

Makeup and Hair

Hair Stylist
Film Type:
Colour Info:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
This was one of the first films to shoot the flashback scenes in black and white and the rest in colour.

The film is based on the life of Hansa Wadkar, well-known Marathi stage and screen actress of the 1940s.