‘Nail Polish’ And ‘Barot House’ Prove Director Bugs Bhargava Krishna’s Obsession With Complex Characters
Both movies do involve killing of children and dark themes. Both The Barot House and Nail Polish are based on true stories.
Barot House in 2019 and Nail Polish in 2021, Director Bugs Bhargava Krishna has shown us some extremely complex characters in both of these movies. Both movies do involve killing of children and dark themes. In Barot House, which is based on a true story, the focus of the plot is on one family unit alone. The tragedy that occurs shatters the family forever. While the family is big, the two most interesting and complex characters have to be Amit and Malhar, the father-son duo.
At the beginning of the film, Amit is shown to be gracious, kind and very loving towards his family. He is especially seen having sweet moments with his son, Malhar, who he lovingly calls ‘Ustad.’ He is suspicious of his wife and thinks that the girls are actually not his daughters. At this point, when Manjari vehemently disagrees in frustration, we see that Amit’s resolve is not broken, and that he truly believes that the the two daughters are not his. The viewer gets a little disturbed here. More so when the children in the other room overhear their conversation and Ustad already knows what’s happening. As the events unfold, and two daughters die, we watch Amit fall apart, little by little. He grows suspicious of his son to the point where his absence from a room makes him go ballistic.
The way the director catches these crucial moments when Amit makes guttural sounds in frustration, or the scene where Amit tries to hang his boy and then in a moment, decides against it, all of these moments are pure genius.
In the same scene, when they are interrupted by the sound of their grandmother, instead of screaming or snitching, Ustad hugs his father and says, “Kuch nahi, hum bas khel rahe the dadi,” really pushes one on the edge of the seat. The way the director portrays these two characters who teeter over the thin line that is love and madness, is insanely good. The ending of the film is twisted and unexpected. Child actor Aaryan does a fabulous job of keeping us guessing till the last minute, quite literally.
The way Ustad smiles and pushes his hair back, the way he looks up and plays the tabla, these are all critical nuances that really make his character. The director sees to it that these nuaces are highlighted in the best way possible, without making it unnecessarily obvious. Impressive.
Coming to Nail Polish, there are a couple of more interesting characters, but they are not as explored as Veer Singh.
There is the character of Arjun Rampal. An arrogant, sharp-tongued lawyer. In his first scene he is seen throwing darts. The director later shows us that the board where Rampal was throwing darts was a picture of his father. We assume he’s dead, but what else? Why was a highly educated and respected lawyer throwing darts at his father’s picture? What caused this much hatred? We don’t know, but the director does help us in getting a feel of Rampal’s Sid Jaisingh. He is lonely, his father was a disappointment to him and this is his motive to succeed.
Rajit Kapoor as the judge and Madhoo as his alcoholic wife have such interesting and lowkey scenes, they make the view want to know more about them. Bugs Bhargava Krishna does offer us some scenes where Rajit Kapoor is nervous about his judgement. He offers moments of confusion that the judge faces, moments where we realize that his past and present revelations could dictate the case, not just what is the law.
But of course, the biggest and most complex character in Nail Polish is Veer Singh. He has a background in the armed forces and is a trained killer. He is well-known in his community for all the work he does for children, yet he is the one to rape and kidnap two children. What makes the mind do such things?
There is an important nuance in the film. It is the holding of the glass paperweight in the courtroom. Before Veer Singh’s injury, we see him often holding the paperweight in his hands while he listened to the court proceedings, looking lost in his own thoughts. After Veer’s injury, after his psychotic breakouts and his hospitalization, when he fully embraces Charu Raina’s personality, in the last courtroom scene, he holds the paperweight again. He does the same action he did when he was Veer Singh. And the movie ends with Veer Singh looking right into the camera lens, breaking the fourth wall, and taunting the viewers and bringing up this question: Is the nail polish the truth, or just a means of hiding the truth?
It’s sheer brilliance on Bugs Bhargava Krishna’s part that helps him develop such nuanced characters. While Malhar was eventually revealed as the killer in The Barot House, the same was kept a mystery in Nail Polish. Was Veer really a victim or was he simply playing with everyone’s minds to escape the judgement? Kudo to Bugs Bhargava for writing these characters so intricately.