They say that the walls have ears. But what do they see?
They see, and they hear. They breathe your stories and the scent of your emotions. That’s the primary theme of this 121 minute masterpiece. It is not a story of different people but the story of a house that has withstood the test of time and we can see through the eyes of the walls, and listen through the windows.
The movie starts off with a slew of award nominations and festival screenings, as they stand testament to this brilliantly layered story of different people in different eras. Written and Directed by Dar Gai, it is a rather unconventional departure from anything I’ve ever seen before. Every 43 minutes you are traveling through the valley of time and I was a small part of the walls, moving, taking in and feeling everything they were feeling.
The First part, “God of Death”, as its aptly titled is the story of a prepubescent kid (Arya Dave) sharing a room with his bedridden Grandfather (Anjum Rajabali), a sullen old man with some rather dubious plans for his grandsons 12th birthday. I was also taken down a trip down the lane of nostalgia, as I could feel Raj’s hesitation to get up from the comfort of his bed and perform the banalities of life. I look back with wonder – how was I able to sit through 8 hours of grueling lectures? Getting back from my little segue, one of the primary themes carried out throughout the entirety of this film is the act of waiting. The grandfather rather selfishly making the child wait despite him getting reprimanded for being late, as he gets on with the discontentment of his past and the present. As he finally lets the child leave his child, we see the bubbly marathi speaking maid (Ah, the age old trope) enter the house, with a surprise party in her mind. However, another surprise is waiting for her and the child.
The second part, “God of Dance” is a rather perplexing exchange between Natraj (Jim Sarbh) and Sulekha (Zoya Hussain). Natraj is a rather awkward, soft spoken man who seems to barge in to the wrong rooms of the same house, now a brothel. He’s a regular receiving special privileges from the brothel “Madam” or Nana, as she’s referred to here. Sulekha, trapped in the the slimy arms of prostitution forced into servitude by her conditions. It’s her first time, apparently. But it rather feels like a routine. The actors both share a lot of chemistry, as they talk about their names, dysfunctions and their lives. Again, she makes him wait, maybe in a selfish way. There is also a rather obvious euphemism, which serves as foregrounding for what is to come. This take is also about finding meaning, as they both have very ironic names. Sulekha, however, is just one of the names in the tattered old dictionary she totes around.
The next part, “God of Love” is an ode, a rather poetic one, to Senility and Love and all things bright and beautiful in this world. An utterly poignant and romantic dialogue between two septuagenarians who have shared more than half of their lives together. We are taken through the lives, an exchange of nothing and everything. I might add that the couple is extremely cute. Mainstream films show the elderly as always being objects eluding sympathy, and they’re contrary to that. Something that particularly stuck by me was a poem the lady says to him. The house now provides shelter to them and shares their joy, as they dance together. As the old man doles off cheesy dialogues and holds his wife close, I felt that this is the utter idealization, of needing, of loving and of sharing an intimate connection. The entire part consists of them talking, and it is wonderful to experience it. The final cut is of the house being remodeled, as it ushers the beginning of a brand new story.
Colors are a major part of the setting. It goes from gloomy to bright, depending on the story being exclaimed. The lens of the beholder is strangely captivated by the colors and the mood. The music score is also brilliant, as with it being played in very opportune moments, and I never felt goaded unto feeling anything, as everything came naturally. Dialogues trail off into these songs.
In the end, all I would like to say is that it was a visual and emotional treat to watch. A very rare diamond in the rough.
We give it 4 chirps.