September 03, 2010

Disturbing Delight

When we watch the first film of a director, and one made on a low-budget, there are certain things we take for granted. If the film fails miserably, we dismiss it. And we know that the next film made by this filmmaker will not inspire us to the theatres. But if it moves you at some level, there is just one thing that comes to mind – wish it could have taken care of its flaws, wish the craft was just a little more mature, and effective.

While watching ‘Antardwand’ it was very apparent. All this script required was one final rewrite – just a little work on the structure, making small but meaningful changes in some of the scenes, cleverly hiding expository dialogue and making it more true, and at times, just getting rid of the lines – replacing dialogue with expressions, with action. And I believe one week’s work would have been sufficient to cause significant improvement.

‘Antardwand’ is a deserving story, and the horror of its premise and the psychological trauma of its characters are deeply moving. All its characters and some of the actors are so true that I felt transported to the land of my birth, my first taste of Bihar in more than three years now. But other actors appear equally fake, in spite of sincere attempts to do their best. Again, it could have been handled with a little more understanding from the part of the director. Just a better camera placement, just a purposeful cut, just letting the shot linger on for two more seconds…

The film is definitely worth a watch, for some of the performances, if not for anything else. And if you allow yourself a little sensitivity, and thought, you can be truly affected. My advice would be to watch this movie alone – I almost was, with just four other men in the large PVR theatre. Even with its flaws, it is good enough to win the National Award for Best Film on Social Issues. Here is your chance to stop cribbing about the lack of sensitive and meaningful cinema in today’s Hindi film industry. Catching it in a theatre would be difficult, considering its limited release, but grab a DVD when it is out. You won’t be disappointed.

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