One of the most commonly used term in the academia of film appreciation is Mise-en-scène. In cinematic context, it refers to basically everything that appears before the camera – props, composition, sets, actors, costumes, and lighting.
Jasleen Royal’s latest soulful ode to heartbreak, ‘Nit Nit’, is visually cathartic. Royal’s distinct textured voice has always managed to create ‘calm in chaos’. Not just the audio track, the music video hits all the right spots and it immediately becomes one of those videos
that one puts on loop to vent all the unresolved and unacknowledged emotions of a heartbreak. The song portrays hurt and the healing, both happening at the same time – isn’t that what most ‘moving on’ phases are about?
Coming back to mise-en-scène, in a particular scene in this video, Royal’s reading a book. For a lot of people that scene just passes by, but according to this aforementioned French expression, the filmmaker has consciously put the particular book in the frame to reflect upon the character and it’s current state. Jordan Peterson’s bestseller self-help book,“ 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” has been used in the video, and it’s title and self-help genre does complement the narrative.
Peterson’s book isn’t exclusive to breakups, but to all emotionally chaotic situations. He has called it an antidote to chaos. The Rule 2 and Rule 12 from his book, more or less, directly complement the narrative of the video, while the other rules need to be deduced before appropriation. Rule 2: Treat Yourself Like One You Are Responsible For Helping. Peterson asks the reader, “Do you love and care for your pet in a way that you would never dream of doing for yourself?” According to him, this is totally normal behavior for human beings. We see our children, our pets, and our loved ones as precious, defenseless, vulnerable, worthy of love and care. Peterson asks us to reach this understanding and reflect the same upon ourselves. Royal is shown pampering her pet dog in the video even when she hadn’t begun emotionally pampering and understanding her vulnerable self. Her furry companion is shown helping her, literally and figuratively, in the most unexplainable ways throughout the video. It’s only gradually that her character begins to ‘resolve’ the ‘conflict’. Her self-care and self-love moments during that appear in the video eventually are the testimony to the aforementioned rule. Rule 12: Pet a Cat When You Encounter One on the Street. Although, Peterson specifically mentions cats over dogs, the idea behind the rule is still as relevant. Peterson says that humans have limitations and are vulnerable. If we weren’t human, we wouldn’t have to suffer, but we do suffer, and that’s something we have no choice but to face. He says that when you pet, it may help you to pay attention to the small things in life that help make up for suffering. In other words, petting brings gratitude. Thus, filmmaker’s choice to put this specific book in the frame complements the narrative and does great justice to the universe that they are trying to create. While watching any piece of cinema, the viewers must try to pay attention to each and every detail. Every object has a story to tell.