Bhakshak is a brand-new Netflix India original film by debutant director Pulkit, produced by Red Chillies Entertainment. The trailer suggested that the film would be about a journalist’s crusade against the system, which is making sure she is not given the chance to report on a certain crime being carried out involving young girls. The movie pores over the journalist’s hustle to find answers about the crime, and how the government has hardly moved a finger to put an end to it. The movie is based on the true story of a shelter home for girls in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, where many allegations of abuse came out after the survey was conducted. Bhakshak is loosely based on this incident from 2018.
Bhumi Pednekar portrays the role of a small-time journalist based in Patna who runs a two-member news channel along with cameraman Bhaskar Sinha. Both are an odd pair, but they are on a crusade to put an end to the crimes she is aware are being committed in government-funded child welfare homes. She aims to bring justice to the young girls being kept in shelter homes without their permission and exposed to sights and touches. Vaishali Singh is a determined journalist who will stop at nothing, and she is ready to face the pain that would come from discovering the truth behind those walls.
Vaishali is aware there is a crime ring involving the current state government, protecting the man who runs a prostitution ring from the shelter home. She refuses to slow down, even though her family does not wish to support her endeavour. Vaishali also must face the brunt of the family, who expect her to quit her job and have a child, which is their definition of an adult settling down. Vaishali Singh is on the hunt for the ugly truth, and she is not afraid to face the system that has all the power to put an end to her work. Vaishali Singh’s story is loosely based on Nivedita Jha, a journalist whose crusade against the government regarding the Muzaffarpur shelter home case is well documented.
Portrayed by the eminent Sanjay Mishra, Bhakshak is incomplete without his contribution as a ray of support and the partner in crime, who is just as concerned about the report submitted to the government revealing cases of physical and sexual abuse the young girls in these homes are subjected to regularly. The report they felt was only the tip of the iceberg, as there is more to uncover about this burgeoning matter.
Sanjay Mishra, as Bhaskar Sinha, the camera person, who is also a senior citizen, is as determined as Vaishali to bring justice to the young girls and is willing to go to any extent to make sure the perpetrators are caught. Bhaskar Sinha is not old but has experience on his side, and he assists Vaishali, giving her as much support and ideas as possible to help strengthen the case against the suspect.
Bhaskar Sinha could have easily walked away, knowing his life would be in danger because there were many powerful ministers and their supporters involved in this crime. Bhaskar Sinha chooses to stay by Vaishali’s side till the end, when the perpetrators are arrested and is willing to help her in any way possible for the authorities and other news channels to pick up on the news and question the silence of the state government. Bhaskar is the kind of colleague one needs by their side.
Aditya Srivastava as the main antagonist Bansi Sahu is loosely based on the real accused, Brajesh Thakur, who had powerful contacts in the state government and remained arrogant about his power and influence. Bansi Sahu is a classic example of an antagonist who has faith in his connections and uses them to pressure Vaishali Singh to put an end to her investigation of the shelter home. Bansi Sahu is aware of the bevy of crimes that are committed in the shelter and has no qualms about going after her and bullying her into backing away from the investigation.
Bansi Sahu is a journalist himself who runs many publications under his name, all of which only promote the current government, and in return, they protect him and his criminal allies. Bansi Sahu and his associates go out of their way to threaten Vaishali and her husband, Arvind. He ignores Vaishali’s determination and the fact that the law is on her side. Bansi Sahu will only thrive on blackmail, extortion, and other illegal methods to keep powerful politicians in his pockets, including state cabinet ministers.
Bansi Sahu is one step away from making a mistake under pressure, and all his huge ring of crimes that are being conducted will crumble like an old building. Bansi Sahu sticks to age-old methods of retaining power while he underestimates the power of journalism, a field he has been a part of for a long time.
Portrayed by Surya Sharma, who is only a few films and television shows old in the industry as an actor, in Bhakshak, he is the typical husband who has a government job and is concerned about Vaishali venturing into a territory on her work front that might put her, him, and their extended family, in danger. Arvind Singh in Bhakshak comes across as a husband who wants an educated wife who has a full-time job, but who also has to fulfil her traditional duties as a wife.
Arvind Singh involuntarily became a part of her work when the perpetrators chose to put pressure on him to subdue Vaishali. Her sincerity towards helping the needy made him change his mind. Even though his family was sadly traumatised by Vaishali’s role in trying to expose Bansi Sahu, Arvind was proud of her work and eventually became a supportive partner.
SSP Jasmeet Gaur
Sai Tamhankar as an IPS officer, SSP Jasmeet Gaur has a brief role in Bhakshak, but she brings the female energy the film needs after Vaishali is exhausted fighting as a lone warrior. Though Jasmeet Gaur in the film is known for unearthing and making several arrests, in this case, she must go by the book because the matter at hand is case-sensitive and hampers her career graph as well. Jasmeet Gaur, just like Vaishali, wants to do the right thing by going after the perpetrators, but she ends up with evidence that will put all the powerful men in prison. Her hands are tied initially because of the zero support from her superior officers, fearing the repercussions of the politicos.
The only way out is to approach the court, which they believe will remain impartial about their concerns. SSP Jasmeet Gaur is a breath of fresh air in a rather dark situation, as Vaishali feels helpless. Jasmeet Gaur never leaves Vaishali alone and encourages her to bring evidence that could help her arrest Bansi Sahu, and that would be the end of his career. SSP Jasmeet Gaur is an interesting character who is more practical than emotional about the outcome of the case.