Bhoomi, starring Jayam Ravi, has farming and the plight of farmers at its core. Except, there is nothing rooted to reality about Bhoomi; everything about it is something spun out of the filmmaker Lakshman’s fantasy.
The film begins with a group of international (or, white) journalists in awe of NASA scientist Boominathan’s (Ravi) feat; he has engineered a pill that reverses the human body’s respiratory process, helping humans inhale Carbon-di-oxide for survival on Mars! It marks the start of an outlandish fantasy that only gets progressively worse with each passing minute.
Before he could depart to Mars as part of a space mission, the US-settled NRI decides to return to his hometown in Tirunelveli and instantly runs into a ‘loosu ponnu’ (Nidhhi Agerwal) who duly disappears after taking up only 15 minutes of your conscience and screen time.
The screenplay offers a twist — courtesy Thambi Ramaiah — in an attempt to jolt the plot to life. The protagonist wakes up to the ‘reality’ of corporate companies sipping the life out of farmlands. We then get a stereotypical villain; the duo lock horns (over the phone) and it all culminates in a climax that resembles in part the (ill-advised) Bhogi Pongal tradition but is more a reminder of Nazi book-burning campaigns.
The issues with Bhoomi are manifold. There isn’t a credible storyline to pique audiences’ interests; something about one man who proffers to have all the solutions taking on another man who, too, proffers to have all the solutions doesn’t sound like a balanced script.
Ronit Roy (as the antagonist Richard Child) is a child’s play for our protagonist. With Boominathan having all solutions, we are left to wonder what exactly are we rooting for. Also, hasn’t it been a while since a suited-up antagonist got down and dirty in a stunt sequence with mass heroes? Because henchmen alone don’t cut it anymore. Or perhaps, this quality vanished from Tamil films along with the late Raghuvaran.
There was a point where I wondered if Bhoomi would have played out any different had its protagonist not had all the answers. What if Boominathan failed, at least once, like Aishwarya Rajesh’s Ariyanachi in Ka Pae Ranasingam? It never happens.
The film, being in the ‘fantasy-masala’ genre, takes all the liberties with various real-world elements it happens to mention. NASA conducts court-martials, an American NASA scientist takes pity with Boominathan’s crusade against the local politicians and slips him proprietary stuff (the aforementioned pill that reverses the human respiratory process) in aid. Logic be damned!
More intolerable than the tone-deaf approach to the film’s writing is the highly inaccurate content that happens in the post-credits scene. As Boominathan engages Richard Child in a conversation (over the phone, not different this time too), he tells him he is about to “develop autism” after ingesting a spiked drink; and Roy duly acts out a seizure. There cannot be a better example that exposes Lakshman’s half-baked understanding of things.
Adding to the hurt is the way in which Bhoomi chooses to utilise someone of the calibre of National Award-winning actor Saranya Ponvannan — by restricting her to exactly two dialogues and three scenes. She really deserves better than this.
Bhoomi is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
Read our other reviews here.