Anur (Eye on the Sunshine, 2022): The infinite possibilities of life's expectations
'Monjul tells the story of Anupama with cinematic affection devoid of any sentimentality. He has crafted the leading lady of his film with traits that define her indomitable spirit of survival, writes Dipankar Sarkar
Dipankar Sarkar, a noted Indian film critic and an alumnus of FTII, Pune, writes ‘Monjul tells the story of Anupama with cinematic affection devoid of any sentimentality. He has crafted the leading lady of his film with traits that define her indomitable spirit of survival.’
Literary adaptation has been a productive ground for filmmaker Monjul Baruah, where the creative seeds of his imagination prosper. Anur, his fourth feature film, is a sombre examination of loneliness and ageing that is based on a short story written by Anuradha Sharma Pujari, who also co-wrote the script. On its surface, it is a heartfelt story of an old lady searching for solace against all odds. But deep within, it’s a meditation on the nature of life, death, and memories. It turns out to be another fascinating character study from Baruah, who has delivered a moving and restrained story with beautifully constructed dramatic moments.
Anupama Baruah (Dr. Jahanara Begum) is an elderly widow who lives in a spacious home in the city of Guwahati. His son Abhishek (Udayan Duarah) works abroad and lives with his young daughter and wife. He is in constant touch with his mother over the phone and has assigned his close friend Om (Boloram Das) to look after her domestic needs. Emina (Rajashree Sarma) helps her with household chores, from cooking to buying groceries. Anupama feels the pangs of forsakenness in her caged existence in the house, yet she has made peace with her life. One fine morning, something out-of-tune happens in her rather rhythmic mundane world: a stranger, Loshith Modliar (Rajat Kapoor), walks into her compound on the pretext of sunning himself on her lawn. The intrusion, which initially fills her with suspicious speculation, ultimately turns out to be a pleasant break from her confining loneliness.
Image: Film still
Monjul tells the story of Anupama with cinematic affection devoid of any sentimentality. He has crafted the leading lady of his film with traits that define her indomitable spirit of survival. She is brave enough to arm herself with a weapon and confront mysterious situations at night. She insists on Emina getting a medical check and also tutors an academically weak young girl, Niju (Bidya Bharti), and instils the spirit of hope in her. The narrative design of the film has a realistic vigour that subtly brings out the nuances of undergoing the painful phase of growing old without the company of a dear one. Unwavering in his conviction, Monjul rather concentrates on the human and emotional facets that transcend the frontiers and make Anupama a human being searching for a purpose in life, thus turning the film into a universal tale of forlornness. The film's strongest element is the contrasting depiction of an elderly woman confronted with a tumultuous reality.
Image: Filmmaker Monjul Baruah
Monjul has demonstrated his visual style with various meticulously composed frames, courtesy of cinematographer Sumon Dowerah. The shots of the protagonist framed in the interior contribute to the depiction of her mental landscape. The pace of editing created by Twenchang is smooth and precise enough to give the film its delicate rhythm. The performance from Dr. Jahanara Begum is restrained and has an elegance that allows Anupama to become an intricate, complex character who seems both childish and insecure, as well as mature and dominant. Rajat Kapoor brings an impressive force to his performance and charmingly builds Loshith as a lonely character searching for a confidante. The convincing supporting cast, comprised of Boloram Das, Bidya Bharti, Rajashree Sarma, and Udayan Duarah, adds a naturalistic tone to their characters.
At a running length of more than two and a half hours, Anur moves too slowly, deliberately savouring minor nuances. But our patience and attention will be amply rewarded if we wilfully relish the moments of stillness and spend time finding the beauty in the normalcy of life.