The lockdown and its aftermath has created a cinema of trauma.Some of it like Adam Mason’s American film Songbird is purely exploitative. On the other hand, the Fahad Faazil film C U Soon in Malayalam used the lockdown scenario of bleak digitalism to telling, chilling effect.
Neha Dhupia’s 11-minute film is not short of integrity. It is a sincere if somewhat selfconscious little story about an on onging interaction between a psychiatrist played by Neha Dhupia(who also co-produces the slim novella on film) and her visibly hyper young patient, played with a watch-me-if-you-can forcefulness by Dev Dutt.
As the two converse on video call , a rather harrowing narrative of lockdown pressures unfolds and somewhere during those ten minutes the onus of opening up wounds that are never going to heal even after the Virus is vanquished, falls on the psychiatrist as she reveals herself to be as much a victim of domestic abuse her patient.
One nagging question that kind of coloured my interest in the film was, how does the jobless aimless boy afford these therapy sessions, unless his shrink is doing it for free?
Neha Dhupia, always an underrated actor, holds the camera well from her stationary situation in the plot. The movement is entirely emotional, never physical.The camera never gets fidgety. It allows the two protagonists to probe each other’s hurt in repose.
Though the plot is a bit heavy-handed for a short film, director Hridaye Nagpal keep the narrative in the brisk mode with shots of a bloody basin and the sound of of whiskey being poured intervening to keep us from getting bored.
Step Out is a laudable effort to tell a sincere story about how the last year has affected our domestic relationships. It’s a story that needed to be told. And I am glad Neha Dhupia is telling it.
Image source: IMDb