I think that Bhumika succeeds at portraying its feminist message, especially considering it was produced in the 1970s. After all, the entire premise of the movie is Usha fighting against her role as a woman and trying to reconcile her feminism with both the public and private sectors of her life. As a little girl, she is essentially forced into becoming a performer, against her mother’s wishes (wishes that stem from her mother’s preconceived notion of what her daughter should become or how she should act [getting married, etc.] within her private home life). As a young adult, Keshav marries her but that marriage is not at all what she expected or wanted, and she struggles with control even though she is the one making money from her acting career. It doesn’t help that the guy who plays Keshav really nails the creepy, greasy vibe. As an older adult and towards the end of the film, Usha seems to come to terms with her lonliness, a fate that she likely could have avoided had she been able to make more of her own choices or exert more control over her life. And of course, circling back to feminism, she lacked these choices because she was a woman. The message in this film is very clear, and quite revolutionary for its time.
Mazumdar seems to believe that Bhumika reduces the struggle to the individual, rather than representing the gender struggle experienced by all members of a social group.While it is true that this is only the story of an individual, I disagree that it is important. Clearly, Usha represents the struggle of women as a whole, through the storytelling lens of an individual. Women’s struggle isn’t cheapened by forgoing their depiction as a huge social group. Rather, an individual’s struggle makes it more relatable to those who may be unfamiliar with it, and being relatable serves as a very effective way to introduce the idea of feminism (or any other idea, for that matter) to an audience that may be new to the idea (in the 70s).