Sepia toned gem
Desimartini | Updated - June 03, 2017 10:37 AM IST
Verdict - melancholic meditative assured debut ofa director
Some films need to be enjoyed for the ride they take us along instead of second guessing where this is leading to. For submission has its own rewards in such outings. A death at the gunj is one such sepia toned wonder which takes you on a week-long vacation to the gunj with a family never quite letting you know what the whole plot point is and in the same breath serving a delicious piece of cinema. And as the eventual death happens , it is less of a shocker and more of a meditative thought that forces you to look at the lack of empathy in our every day lives.
Opening with a cryptic matter of fact discussion over how best to fit a corpse in the back of an ambassador, the settings change to a holiday home in the middle of what looks like a farm at the fringes of a jungle where the Bengali family is spending a vacation. we meet the oddball characters of the family, a cocky son ( Deviah) his good at heart wife (Tilotama Shome) their parents Tanuja and Om Puri, and their friends comprising of a bully (Shorey) a siren (Kalki) and a fun harmless guy (Sarbh). Then there is the kid Tani and the cousin they all love to tease eternally Shutu, played by Vikrant Massey.
As the characters slip effortlessly into Bengali Hindi and English and deliver moments of life not lines , Death draws you into this 70's set piece replete with old 10 paise coins inland letters Android trunk calls at daak ghar. What it also does is slowly but surely build up the sense of loneliness and depression eating Shutu from the inside. His failed marksheet, his longing for Kalki, the perpetual and at times brutal bullying he is subjected to and the absolute lack of any empathy shown to him by the family simmers in the backdrop lurking slowly subtly , preparing you for a reveal that cannot have been handled better.
Debutant director Konakana is assured , has a firm grip on the story and the telling of it . Blessed other actors who can do no wrong , and do not at any point either, she weaves a melancholic tale. Her choices, from the language spoke. to the characters and the Santhal tribal music , all speak of an attention to detail and penchant for getting things just right without worrying about how acceptable they would be to an audience. And this honesty is what shines through.
A death at the gunj heralds a fresh new voice into Indian cinema. Here's hoping this voice gets more chances to tell a tale.