Adil Hussain on bonsai and Bachchan and the art of acting, at the Dharamsala International Film Festival

Posted on November 25, 2019


Read the full article on Film Companion, here:

Plus, brief thoughts on ‘Birha’, ‘Oh That’s Bhanu’, ‘Eeb Allay Ooo!’, ‘For Sama’, and why close-ups are necessary.

Spoilers ahead…

At a film festival, everyone wants to see the next Parasite. I do, too. But that’s the kind of film that is going to be everywhere, at some point. But Ekta Mittal’s Birha? That’s something you’ll catch only at special screenings and at film festivals. This 80-minute slice of docu-fiction is a continuation of Behind the Tin Sheets, which focused on the subconscious of workers migrating to big cities. In Birha, the gaze turns to the towns and villages these workers have migrated from. The synopsis in the festival brochure calls “birha” (which means separation, estrangement) an undefined, ethereal space where “mothers wait for their missing sons, lovers lay awake and follow their impulses and fantasies, and the long departed wander in infinite landscapes of uncertainty”. The film feels like a haunted dream, like a mist of memories that’s forever in danger of evaporating. 

A different kind of loss permeates RV Ramani’s Oh That’s Bhanu, which I considered skipping at the Dharamsala International Film Festival (DIFF) because it was going to be screened in Chennai a week later. But I saw it anyway, and it’s an extraordinary account of Bhanumathi Rao, a renowned classical dancer and theatre actor, now in her mid-90s. We ask: Given her memory loss, is Bhanu a very special kind of unreliable narrator, “performing” once again for the camera? But then, what is memory? By employing repetition and playing with time, the film goes deep into what we think we know, how it changes over the years, and how it affects our lives and relationships. Ramani said he felt an instant connection with Bhanu. We do, too.

Continued at the link above.

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