Bhakshak is Netflix India’s latest addition to the investigative drama sub-genre involving journalists who want to fight the system and bring justice to the needy and the destitute. Starring Bhumi Pednekar, Sanjay Mishra, Aditya Srivastava, and Sai Tamhankar, the movie is about a journalist trying very hard and risking her life to prevent the abuse of many young girls at a shelter home. The road to victory is paved with many obstacles, and the lead goes through an arduous journey to make sure her goal is fulfilled, and the media talks about the issue at hand.
What Happened At The Shelter Home?
Bhakshak begins with an older man smugly claiming to have sexually abused a girl when she refused to give him consent. The young girl was in a lot of agony, and the caretaker was helpless because no doctor was willing to attend to her as the scenario was illegal. The caretaker and the rapist kill the girl and conduct her last rites. The caretaker mentioned the name Bansi Sahu, which indicates the man was the ringleader of a prostitution racket and a powerful person in the area.
Who Gave Vaishali The Information About The Shelter Home?
In Patna, Vaishali, a television news reporter for ‘Koshish’ news channel started by her and Bhaskar Sinha, the cameraperson, received a social audit report from their source, Gupta Ji. The report had a survey that claimed the Munawarpur Girls Shelter Home had many cases of young girls being molested on a regular basis. The report had been out for two months, and no one from the government had acted against the people who ran the shelter home. Vaishali and Bhaskar had a hard time believing a report of this nature was not being taken seriously. They were not keen on running this story because they worried about receiving flak from the government. The only way to get to the bottom of this matter was to visit the town and find answers from the local government bodies.
What Was Vaishali And Bhaskar’s First Course Of Action?
The first course of action was to visit the shelter in question in Munawarpur, but the duo was neither allowed to take pictures nor enter the premises. They began to suspect the report was accurate based on the reaction of the caretaker. Vaishali and Bhaskar approached the office of the Child Welfare Committee, who were in denial about the presence of any report of this kind. The chief of the committee vowed to take matters seriously, but it was obvious he had no intention of helping Vaishali and Bhaskar in this matter. Their first avenue of help was closed off thanks to the corrupt officials, who did not escalate the matter further and answered Vaishali’s questions very vaguely.
Was Vaishali’s Family Supportive Of Her Career Choices?
Arvind, Vaishali’s husband, received a threatening call from Bansi Sahu, who informed him about her and Bhaskar snooping around the town of Munawarpur. Arvind was livid at her for looking for trouble and not worrying about her and her family’s well being. Arvind’s brother’s family also admonished Vaishali for going after Bansi Sahu and his men. They expected Vaishali and Arvind to have a child by now and wanted her to give up her job for the sake of the family. They would prefer if she was covering stories that did not involve powerful people working in the system. Arvind was also tired of Vaishali asking for time for her career to flourish.
How Did Vaishali Find A Breakthrough?
Vaishali and Bhaskar began a parallel investigation by questioning all girls’ shelter homes in and around Patna in the hope of learning if any girl child from Munawarpur shelter had moved to their respective homes. Every record from each shelter home pointed to the fact that no girls from Munawarpur were ever transferred or moved to any other shelter. This was a sickening statistic, and it raised eyebrows as this detail was slowly confirming the audit report.
A girl named Sudha had come from the ill-fated home and she initially refused to speak to Vaishali and Bhaskar. The former had to plead with the young girl to speak up for the sake of the young girls facing hell. Sudha eventually spoke about having joined as a cook at the shelter home and being asked by the warden, Baby Rani, to keep quiet in case she witnessed any untoward incident. To Sudha’s horror, she was witness to a string of crimes committed by Bansi, the warden, and the other men that were brought in to molest underage girls. Bansi was on the brink of forcing Sudha into the racket as well. The young girl also overheard the case of a girl being molested using red chili powder, as shown in the beginning of the film. Sudha escaped and ran away to another shelter, and so far, she has kept everything to herself.
Who Had Filed The PIL?
Since the police and other government bodies were unwilling to make any move against Bansi Sahu and the employees he hired at the shelter home, there was a PIL filed against the government questioning why no probe had been conducted against the Munawarpur shelter home.
Bansi Sahu himself was an ex-journalist who currently had three pro-government newspapers. This was the reason why the social welfare minister and her husband were not very keen on probing the gentleman. Bansi had threatened to take everyone down if he was ever arrested. His men and many other allies were worried that ignoring this matter would be a mistake. Bansi Sahu’s men beat up Vaishali’s brother-in-law, who was a lawyer by profession, as they were under the impression it was him who filed the PIL. The brother-in-law and his family were livid at Vaishali and denied their role in filing the PIL. They had to face the brunt of Vaishali’s work and chose to distance themselves from her. The PIL was filed by Guptaji, Vaishali’s source, in the hope the case would be fast-tracked and he would receive the money he was promised by Vaishali for the tip about this story.
Was SS Jasmeet Gaur A Ray Of Hope?
Vaishali had given up hope on cracking this case. SS Jasmeet Gaur, a female IPS officer, was a blessing in disguise because she would understand the gravity of the matter. Sadly, Jasmeet could understand the moral and emotional angle and the work carried out by Vaishali to pressure the government. The court will only look at evidence during the investigation and trial. SS Jasmeet was a considerate police officer who was the only one in town willing to investigate the matter, unlike her subordinates. Many of her subordinates refused to help Vaishali, fearing backlash from Bansi Sahu’s men and associates. She tried her level best to arrest the caretaker of the Munawarpur Shelter Home, but Bansi Sahu resisted it. SS Jasmeet’s hands were tied because she could not move ahead without any solid evidence.
How Did Vaishali Convince Sudha To Testify Against Bansi?
Vaishali was in hot soup as Sudha had refused to give any official statement, fearing retaliation from Bansi Sahu and his men, including pressure from the political party supporting him. Sudha was on the brink of becoming a part of the ring Bansi Sahu was running. She barely managed to escape, and she did not want to face trauma if she decided to speak up against Bansi and his child prostitution racket. Sudha came from a lower middle-class family, and her aim was to earn enough for her family to survive.
Vaishali tried to make her understand the pain the girls were going through while living in that shelter and many were afraid of being molested or, worse, killed. Sudha’s words would help them get away from the hellish conditions. Sudha’s statement would give the girls some freedom to live life on their own terms. She contemplates and finally agrees to give a statement for the sake of a girl in the shelter who asked her to leave the place before the people forced her into it.
Sudha’s words against Bansi Sahu brought down the racket almost immediately. Bansi Sahu did not run away because he probably planned to stay back and speak out against the people who helped him build this racket. Along with him, the warden and the caretaker were arrested. There was a chain reaction that occurred when the arrest was made, and it quickly became national news. This was the result of Vaishali and Bhaskar’s efforts to bring this news to the forefront. Their persistence never stopped, which helped police officers like SS Jasmeet make many significant arrests and bring down the racket.
What Did Vaishali’s End Speech Mean?
Bhakshak ended with the usual telecast of Koshish News by Vaishali as a TV news anchor talking about the prostitution racket bust made by the Patna police at the Munawarpur Shelter Home funded by the state. The matter that perplexed Vaishali was the absence of sensitivity towards young girls and why people have to wait till the last moment to help. There was a hint of sarcasm in her tone because she was aware people would forget this incident and move on to the next.
The next scandal would be of another subject, and viewers would get engrossed in it. Vaishali took a sarcastic route during her telecast and wanted people to be superficial and project a fake caring attitude towards the girls who were rescued. She believed people had become less empathetic, to the point that they would forget this matter in a week’s time. This was a dig at the current state of television news media, where many important stories are swept under the rug after a while only to make way for another. The cycle was never-ending, but Vaishali planned to stay true to journalism and its ethics. Hopefully she would be able to cover other important matters going forward, and her family would be proud of her.