19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival
Director: Sanal Kumar Sashidharan
Duration: 85 Mins
Language: Malayalam | Section: India Gold
“brutal as it gets, claustrophobic journey knocks you off”
After controversy and pressurizing from the Indian Ministry regarding the word “Sexy” in the title and the withdrawal from the Mumbai Film Festival- “S Durga” is now certified U/A.
The unscripted film with improvised drama revolving around Durga (Rajshri Deshpande) and Kabeer (Kannan Nayar) heading towards the Railway Station late night end up taking a lift of a car filled with notorious bunch of guys. The dual narrative, the couple’s journey and the celebration of Goddess goes hand-in-hand.
Even before the actual story began, the Director managed to make the audience dizzy with celebration of Goddess, that’s not what you think. Setting up such narrative is ironical to the treating of woman in the clumps of men, who govern and direct the procession- iron hooks inserted into body, iron rods inserted from cheeks and walking on burning coal by men. By the end of the film, it feels that these “men” deserve more than this.
As for the story of the couple, the darkness plays an important role. We are hooked and kept at the edge-of-the-seat and think for the safety of the woman. “Durga” is a Goddess worshipped across India but for the sake, if you see a girl named Durga- wonder what will be your take if she’s beautiful and sexy.
The haunting sound design especially, the acceleration of the vehicles rips the gooseflesh. It reminded me of Steven Spielberg’s first film “Duel”. The train which passes along pounds the heart to beat heavily. Even the acceleration of a two-wheeler (two men who randomly interfere passerby, irony of Indian Society) makes us worried about the couple. I had the thumb pressed inside my fist with heart pounding.
One brilliant aspect is the Cinematography by Prathap Joseph, shot mostly in long one shots in the darkness. The dsytopic heavy metallic background score adds chaos to the narrative.
“Time is changed. Truth is changed”, the lyrics evoke realism. As an elderly couple just turns away from a bunch harassing a couple and turn off the lights towards the end, Director Sanal Kumar Sashidharan’s claustrophobic journey in a car will knock you off.
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