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Tripti Dimri Wowed Us In Bulbbul—Does She Deliver In Qala, Her New Netflix Film?

Tripti Dimri had completely won everyone over with her performance in Bulbbul. so there is a great deal riding on her new Netflix film Qala.

Netflix’ latest release, Qala (2022) is Tripti Dimri’s second collaboration with Anvita Dutt and Clean Slate Filmz after Bulbbul (2020). Her performance was applauded in 2020 with Bulbbul’s character becoming well known in most Indian households.

Thus, the audiences certainly had high expectations from Qala, a film that portrays a protagonist who suffers from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, in terms of what Dimri, Dutt and Clean Slate Filmz would together deliver.

Does Qala match up to Bulbbul?

Dimri’s (fixed) facial expressions throughout the film

Dimri might have delivered a praiseworthy performance in Bulbbul (2020), but Qala does not give her a chance to shine. Whether we blame it on poor film direction by Anvita Dutt Guptan or Dimri’s terrible acting in it, Qala, in every way, fails to create a character that the Indian audiences can use as an example of someone who suffers from schizophrenia and PTSD.

Qala is a character who falls victim to both abusive parenting and casting couch, yet Dimri’s facial expressions simply refuse to change with the scenes that demand a lot more from her. Her eyebrows remained arched, forehead wrinkled and sweaty and eyes confused and scared in almost every other scene be it when she is getting ridiculed by her mother or when she is having a panic attack in a room full of musicians.

In fact, Dimri is so unconvincing in her portrayal of a disturbed individual that one can’t help but wonder how little Bollywood knows about the mental disorders that Qala claims to delve into. The least that the director of the film could have done was to watch films like Haider (2014) to flesh out a better protagonist.

Dimri’s lack of effort to play the role of a singer

Any person who has watched Rockstar (2011) or Bandish Bandits (2020-present) would be quick to point out Dimri’s disappointing acting as a singer.

In all the scenes where she is shown to be singing, it becomes quite apparent that she is lip syncing the songs instead of putting in even the basic effort to act like a singer. This makes all of those scenes rather comical instead of convincing.

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The other actor Swastika Mukherjee overshadows Dimri

Mukherjee is one of those strong actors in Bollywood who deserve to be casted in more films with stronger roles. In Qala, she portrays her role so well that she makes the audiences loathe her while pitying her at the same time. There are scenes in which one might even feel the need to enter the screen and talk some sense into her and that, in every way, shows how convincing she is as an actor.

Dimri, somehow, doesn’t manage to shine in front of someone like Mukherjee. Thus, by the end of the film, one is more impacted by Mukherjee instead of Dimri even though the latter is supposed to be the protagonist.

Is Tripti Dimri getting typecast?

Dimri’s role in Bulbbul and Qala are similar in a lot of ways even though her acting in the former was much better. Thus, she seems to be getting typecast in the role of a victimised and troubled woman onscreen who eventually ends up seeking revenge from the ones who have harmed her.

Additionally, even the visuals used in the two films are similar in the most bizarre ways considering they’re set in different timelines and geographical locations. While Bulbbul had a red background in most scenes that no one could figure out the reason behind, Qala has a disturbingly bluish-black background. Perhaps, these films are attempting to symbolise the mental state of their protagonists and the abuse suffered by them through these colours. However, if that is the case, then the makers are definitely failing to copy Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film aesthetics.

So many parallels yet so different

The issue I have with films like Bulbbul and Qala is that they centre themselves around the themes of abuse, trauma and revenge, but end up punishing the female protagonist (played by Dimri in both cases) more for wanting to challenge patriarchy.

Not only are these films extremely disturbing to watch because of how they indirectly ridicule sexual violence and mental trauma, but are even problematic for promoting the notion that victims don’t deserve to live and outgrow the harm caused to them.

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About the Author

Upasana Dandona

A dysgraphic writer who spends most of their time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...

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