15th IDSFFK- Pickles & Oranges (2023): A melancholic contemplation on life
Dipankar Sarkar, a distinguished Indian film critic and a graduate of the esteemed Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, provides an insightful analysis of the short film titled "Pickles & Oranges," skilfully crafted by the talented filmmaker Tridisha Goswami.
Generally, a film whose plot revolves around the bond between a mother and daughter showcases a flurry of conflict and highlights the sharp pain of persistent memories that often serve as catalysts for emotional growth and understanding between the characters. The home becomes a stifling and claustrophobic playground, immersed in a world where every interaction is laden with tension and unspoken emotions. The familiar walls that once provided comfort now feel suffocating, symbolising the emotional barriers that need to be broken down for healing and reconciliation to occur. Tridisha Goswami’s short film Pickles & Oranges also deals with a similar intricate relationship, but with such subtly and nuances that reject any form of romanticisation towards the subject. The film offers a perspective that deviates from the typical sentimental themes often associated with such films. Its unconventional approach dares to confront viewers with an unfiltered depiction of reality that is often overlooked in traditional narratives.
The story of the film is told from the perspective of a daughter (Susmita Talukdar) who has returned home to her mother (Runu Devi). What follows next is a low-key drama where both women strengthen their emotional attachment to one another. Through candid conversations and shared experiences, they find solace in each other's presence, revealing layers of trust and understanding. The filmmaker's use of symbolic imagery and subtle visual cues, which invite viewers to interpret the characters' internal struggles and emotions. Goswami has used close shots of hands—massaging the palm, picking up glass from the floor, holding carpels of orange, or fingers picking teeth—to capture the essence of emotions, revealing the depth and complexity of our inner selves. This image serves as a mirror, demonstrating the vast spectrum of human experiences and connecting us on a deeper level. Similarly, moments shared by mother and daughter on the terrace while putting the clothes on the line and putting the pickle jars under the sun are an articulation of something altogether different, at once simple and universal. It captures the essence of the human experience, showcasing the genuine longing for fulfilment and purpose that resonates with audiences from all walks of life and serves as a kind of solace in the shared emotions of seeking happiness amidst life's uncertainties.
The film has an episodic structure, where different scenes are presented in a fragmented manner and unfold with a candid lightness. By adopting such a narrative device, the filmmaker highlights an aura of stasis between the two characters and indicates how the characters are affected by their inability to change or grow. As a result, their conversations seem disjointed and confusing to us because we are not familiar with their thought process. Such creative choices, though, add multiple layers of complexity to their quotidian lives but also lead to frustration as we are not able to decipher accurately what they truly mean or intend.
Pickles & Oranges is a film that is simple and complex at the same time. It has been selected in the competition section of short films at the 15th International Documentary and Short Film Film Festival of Kerala, 2023.