Some directors love to tell a story through spoken words. Aditya Vikram Sengupta is not one of them. After his masterful debut Asha Jawar Majhe (Labour of Love), he is back with his sophomore effort Jonaki. The visual style exemplified in Labour of Love has achieved it’s true potential in this surreal drama about dreams.
Jonaki is a very personal film for the filmmaker and the treatment makes us feel like it. The minimalist story is based on the life of his grandmother. Jonaki is an
80-year-old woman who is revisiting the journey of her life through her decaying memories. We are introduced to the stories of forbidden love, a research obsessed father, an uncaring husband through a series of breathtaking dream imageries, often flirting with surrealism. Time and place are often blurred, which is so often the case with dreams. Late Lolita Chatterjee is phenomenal as the grandmother. In a movie with scant dialogues, her eyes convey a lot.
Aditya lets the images play out their natural duration, and like true visual poetry, a lot of the story pans out in the mind of the audience. All his frames are masterfully crafted like a painting. As a matter of fact, he indeed paints his frames first before the production design process kicks in. Usage of light and shadows to generate depth of frames is very interesting. Jonaki means fireflies in Bengali, and there is one particularly terrific image which etches the name permanently in our memory. This film about dreams has a distinct sleepy quality, and in one of the interviews, Aditya had mentioned that he distinctly wanted the film to have that quality. It reminded me of a quote from Christopher Doyle, long time DOP for Wong Kar Wai, which goes like this. “If you can fall asleep, in a movie, it means that the movie often works.”
Sengupta writes, shoots and edits his film himself. His magnificent vision is ably supported by innovative as well as world-class production design, by Jonaki Bhattacharya, wife of the director. Usage of mosquito nets for the isolation of characters was one such example. Though this film has dialogues unlike Asha Jawar Majhe, this feels more minimalist than the last one.
At only 2 films old, Aditya has etched a niche style for himself as one of the most original filmmakers working in India currently. His stronghold over the craft of filmmaking, characteristic aesthetic sense along with a measured rhythm of his own has made him a filmmaker to watch for in the days to come.
‘JONAKI’ WAS SCREENED AT THE 20th JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star under the ‘INDIA GOLD‘ Section.
CLICK HERE FOR OUR COMPLETE MAMI COVERAGE.
DIRECTED/SCREENWRITER: ADITYA VIKRAM SENGUPTA
PRODUCER: SAMIR SARKAR
CAST: LOLITA CHATTERJEE, BURJOR PATEL, JIM SARBH, INTDRAJIT SINHA, ARUNIMA SINHA, RATNABALI BHATTACHARJEE, SATYA PRIYO CHAKRABORTY, SUMANTO CHATTOPADHYAY, SUNDERSHIKA TAMANG
DURATION: 90 min
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: ADITYA VIKRAM SENGUPTA & MAHENDRA SHETTY
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: VIKRAM MOHINTA
COPRODUCER: CATHERINE DUSSART
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: JONAKI BHATTACHARYA
EDITOR: ADITYA VIKRAM SENGUPTA
MUSIC: ALEXANDER ZEKKE
COLORIST: DEBOJYOTI GHOSH & SIDHARTH MEER
SOUND: HINDOLE CHAKRABORTY
When not watching movies, Souvik loves to watch Chelsea play, read anything by Yuval Noah Harari or listen to Steven Wilson.