Digital filmmaking has opened up a whole universe of opportunity for those with cinematic aspirations. Today, like photography being the art of the masses, filmmaking has come closer home to the larger masses.
This should have resulted in crazy, wonderful experiments. And it has. To have proof watch independent film 'Kshay', made on a micro-budget, a handful of actors and over a two years period. It is a film which despite its flaws, not only manages to hold its own, but in moments shines.
Chhaya (Rasika Dugal) gets enamoured by a white statue of goddess Laxmi and wants to have it at any cost. The husband, who is struggling to make ends meet, agrees to get it once he has money. Soon, however, her desire takes an obsessive turn to disastrous consequences.
The greatest strength of the film, is its obvious but beautiful and extremely important metaphor. Chhaya's obsession for the statue of Laxmi (goddess of wealth) and her ability to see it everywhere is an allegory to modern man's maddening obsession for wealth. Driven by a madness not different from Chhaya's, we want money. We do not care what this does to those near us or what its final conclusion would be.
And this obsession, debutante director-writer Karan Gour captures beautifully and metaphorically in his film.
Shot in black and white, the film complements its straightforward statement against obsession. There's no final reason given for the character's fixation with the statue, but there really is no need. Obsession is an end in itself, an end of all beauty and grace.
The film, however, is not bereft of flaws. Though otherwise the editing is nice, it is 15 minutes too long. One has the nagging feeling that the makers were scared of not being taken too seriously if the film did not reach 90 minutes duration. This leads an otherwise beautiful film to slack.
Many shots are useless and don't add to the narrative. E.g.in the end when the guy is crossing the road, it takes him forever and the camera meanders with the character. It does not serve any purpose because his next crucial act is not carried out in that one long shot. Three minutes could have been easily saved just in that shot.
The film rests on the petite shoulders of Rasika Dugal. And this Film and Television Institute of India graduate plays the transformation of an innocent, loving housewife into a bewitched woman elegantly. One can only wish her the best, hoping she'd catch the attention of more filmmakers for her solid performance.
It is simply amazing what a person with a sound knowledge of the craft of filmmaking can do today, without even going to film school and with often as much budget as it takes to buy the world's cheapest car. The budget can be 'nano' but the film can really be big.
It is an exciting time indeed to be a delectable viewer in India.