It is heartening to see the languishing actor Pitobash Tripathy get a whole film to himself. Odiya director Nila Madab Panda’s first film in his native tongue, has Pitobash bleeding an indescribable pain into every frame.
Tripathy plays a psychologically disturbed man Gunu whose entire family has been swept away by a cyclone into the sea.
It’s no surprise that this homeless wanderer has lost his mind and that he talks about his drowned family as if they were still alive. He sees them in front of his eyes. Gunu goes back to the village that was swallowed by the sea, much like his own joys as a householder and family man.
His guilt as a man who couldn’t take care of his family is so tangible it becomes a character of its own. Like the guilt in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. We feel its presence non-stop. It bleeds into the very fabric of the narration defining Gunu’s every gesture, every move, every breath…
True, in the quest for the truth about the nullity of existence, this vividly mapped race of the human heart loses its way into repetitive scenes of Gunu searching for a family and a home that no longer exists. Instead of romanticizing Gunu’s predicament writer-direor Nila Madab Panda, opens up the wounds of past transgressions to show how they colour the present.
The vivid film is shot by cinematographer Nagaraj Diwaka mostly in pale faded shades denoting a climatic upheaval. The shots of the heaving lurching ocean as weighed against the triviality of human life lend a feeling of looming cataclysm to the fable-like story of a man so far gone he seeks his family back from the ocean which has claimed them.
Cannily the director uses unknown actors of the region who don’t look like actors at all. Pitobash who is an accomplished actor, blends into the bleached colours of catastrophe. He is no longer an actor playing man drowning in grief. He is that man Gunu whose adventures in the evacuated village border of ludicrous. Such is life. Abject tragedy is never too far from the comedy of the grotesque.
That the film was shot in an actual seaside village confers the proceedings with a palpable immediacy. The narrative moves back and forth in time creating a sense of ongoing foreboding. Ruination seems just around the next corner. Kalira Atita could have done with a lighter tone of naratation. But then, when you are somebody who has lost everything, what’s there to laugh about?
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