Extraordinary films about ordinary people

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Extraordinary films about ordinary people

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Barah x Barah, a remarkably tender subtle and unostentatious debut by director Gaurav Madan, captures the essence, the nullity of existence in mundane images and dialogues. The characters, their homes, lives and words have an assuaging life-like feel and texture, as if the director forgot to yell ‘cut’ and the actors continued to live the lives assigned to them by the script. There is a listless continuity to the lives led by the characters.

No fancy music, no lingering lenses define these lives. They are who they are. To look so naturalized one has to be a part of the Varanasi’s complex cosmopolitan culture. Madan never lets the narrative forget PM Narendra Modi’s ubiquitous presence. His voice floats out at us from blaring television sets and politics never far away from the characters’ range of topics, though the hero Sooraj (Gyanendra Tripathi) is outwardly apolitical and wholly taken up with the task of making a living for his family: an ailing father (brilliantly played by Harish Khanna), a silently supportive wife Meena (Bhumika Dubey, so natural she makes the camera seem like an intruder) and their little son.

Later this small silently struggling family is joined by Sooraj’s sister Mansi (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan) who has moved to Delhi, a betrayal for which the father has never quite forgiven her. None of this is spoken. Most Hindi films make the mistake of overstating their case. Not this one. As in most middleclass families very little emotional energy is expressed. Everything is to be understood.

The film tilts its pugdee at all those faceless people in bustling towns who toil from morning to night without any hope or expectation of a reward. There is an uncelebrated tragedy at the heart of lives lived on the edge. Gaurav Madan’s slim flab-free noiseless film understands the human tragedy of obscurity.

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