11 Jun 2021: 'Bhuj: The Day India Shook' review: Poignant, moving and important
Discovery+ original documentary, Bhuj: The Day India Shook is now streaming on the platform. Narrated by veteran actor Anupam Kher, it traces the 2001 earthquakes in Bhuj, Gujarat. Said to have claimed over 20,000 lives and damaged property worth crores, one of the most devastating calamity in Indian history is depicted in a poignant way, while also raising the right questions. Here's our review.
Structure: Testimonies, narration, visuals clearly convey the gravity of the disaster
The documentary includes testimonies, recreation, archival footage and narration to tell the story of death and destruction brought on by the Bhuj earthquake. All these elements work in tandem with each other to convey the gut-wrenching reality of that time. In its 51-minute-long run, it not only documents the disaster, but also questions if we are safe now and what did we learn.
Testimonies: Survivors, miracle rescues, experts; documentary backed by solid testimonies
The initial half is dedicated to testimonies or survivors' accounts and miracle rescues of people, who spent over three days buried under the debris. It is intercut with interviews with those involved in relief work, journalists covering the disaster, and a doctor, who had to treat patients in a football ground, as the hospital collapsed. Each and every interview/testimony shakes you to the core.
Fact: It being Republic day increased the number of casualties
The earthquake struck on 26 January, when most of the school-going kids were walking through narrow lanes, as part of a Republic Day procession, and got crushed under collapsed buildings. Similarly, about 174 patients and staff died in a hospital, who were busy flag hoisting.
Information: India was under-prepared then, where does it stand now?
It also informs that India did not have a disaster relief force at that time, and help had to called from outside the country, which delayed relief work. Bhuj also reveals how poor material usage and folly of the engineers made the disaster much worse. It sends a chill down your spine when the experts warn that history can repeat itself, anywhere in India.
Details: Experts explain the science behind earthquakes; point out the lags
One good part about the documentary is that it has incorporated different geologists who explain why the Bhuj region was so badly hit, because of the movement of the seismic plates. It also uses some state-of-the-art graphics, along with Kher's voiceover to explain it in great detail. The experts also point out the lags in terms of construction that led to mass destruction.
Verdict: Compelling watch, but bogged down by 'recreations'; gets 3.5/5
This compelling documentary is marred with unnecessary recreations of survivor testimonies. The accounts are powerful on their own, and did not need to be dramatized. It gives a very amatuer-ish look. While highlighting the rescue, it completely ignores the accountability of the government. The stories of survival give hope, while also making you think how safe are you at your home. Verdict: 3.5/5 Bytes.
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