Mangsho  Short Film Review: Raw, Unpleasing and Unforgiving
Some would remark that Tathagata Ghosh‘s ‘Mangsho (The Meat)’ is a political statement. Some would lament that it is a social reality. Some would show optimism that this is temporary. Some would deny its ephemerality with the argument of its chronic heritage that has existed as a muted poison since forever – one that has now mutated to have a consciousness of its own. Equipped with the dagger to stab harmony many times and kill it gradually.
I opine that it is an artist’s helplessness. It is a helpless situation when all inspiration an artist desires, exists in the most nightmarish portions of existence. It is a helpless situation when an artist starts to feel the urgency of a call of duty than feeling a passionate rush, before beginning a new project. As an artist, I want to talk about human potential. But as a human, the need of the hour is to talk about the human condition.
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Arun Karthick quotes “It is tragic that the thematic relevance of this film (Nasir, 2020) is only growing. I would love to see the day when I cannot recognize the political reality of the film. It would give me great relief for the film to become politically irrelevant someday when all this hatred was only seen and experienced as a thing of the past.” A thought similar to this one occurred to me when I finished Saeed Akhtar Mirza‘s ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’, which is a 1989 film. Following Nasir (2020), I realized that Karthick is troubled with the same idea.
Tathagata Ghosh’s film is a scathing “against-argument” on the same communal hatred, that has not lost its relevance since 1989. And this is when I am measuring it by aligning it with the timeline of films. I would love to see all these films become irrelevant at some time in the future. But this thought itself feels like a utopia.
Ghosh’s Mangsho (The Meat) derives its originality from the circumstance it is set in. Romantic tragedies feel exclusive to the privileged. The working class thinks from an empty stomach, which eats its heart. All tragedies it goes through are concentrated on the survival of the body. When the wall falls, all Humpty Dumpty’s sitting on the wall collapse on these people who were hidden with the wall and they are the first ones to leave their breath.
Mangsho sketches the grim reality in which humans have been reduced to pieces of raw meat chopped at will. It tries to be short in its narration but the idea is big. Commendable is the effort to encapsulate the entire pyramid of communal hatred in parts if not whole to argue how this problem is not a cosmetic that can be removed with a facewash. At the same time, it is made in an acute lack of mobility and resources which is evident. But this is more a cause of surprise than being a cause of discomfort.
My reservation will exist with the short’s pre-climactic sequence in which contrivance supersedes the organic flow of the narrative to act as a plot device for the conclusion. It feels, somewhere, that to reach the dead end, something was employed exogenously than being derived inherently. I do not have a problem with expression. That is entirely plausible. I just cannot buy the convergence of events in its entirety – especially when it is preceded by an action that is extremely improbable given the circumstances.
That being said, the unpleasant but essential morsel of our present can be taken with Tathagata Ghosh’s ‘Mangsho (The Meat)’, which can neither be swallowed nor puked.