Chocolate Wrapper (2023): Shadows of Trust Amidst Exploitation

Dipankar Sarkar provides a comprehensive analysis on Pawan Kamble's short film "Chocolate Wrapper (2023)"

Dec 24, 2023 - 13:39
Dec 25, 2023 - 09:47
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Chocolate Wrapper (2023): Shadows of Trust Amidst Exploitation
In the halcyon days of childhood, the world is a kaleidoscope of wonder, and happiness lies in the simplest of joys. It is a time when our hearts flutter with the excitement of discovery, and the future is an abstract concept, distant and unburdened by the weight of adult concerns. These early years are often painted in the hues of innocence, where every day is an adventure and every setback a temporary inconvenience easily remedied by a parent's comforting embrace. But Pawan Kamble's short film, Chocolate Wrapper, deals with a stark reality and raises the question: What can a child do when confronted with the dual nature of human interaction, where benevolence and malevolence wear the same mask?
In the quaint universe of Pihu's (Debkanya Hazra) childhood, a charming connection blooms between her and a genial hawker (Prithwis Halder) who, in exchange for a mere token amount, provides her with candies and chocolates. Menaksshi (Arunima Saha), Pihu's mother, is a woman navigating the labyrinth of middle age and work commitments. One fateful day, she arrives home earlier than usual, only to be met with a scene more heartbreaking than the strains of a broken routine. Ashutosh (Kaustav Bhattacharya), her husband, the anchor of domesticity, is entangled in a web of infidelity with their maid. Distressed and under the weight of duress, Menaksshi seeks solace in a conversation with her daughter. In the tender conversation, Pihu discloses a secret. In the aftermath of this revelation, the characters are left to navigate an embarrassing path between confronting the harsh spikes of reality and preserving the delicate veneer of childhood.
Without adopting a didactic tone, the filmmaker illuminates a paradoxical phase in which children, amidst the comforting warmth of simplicity, might unwittingly fall prey to exploitation. The purity of their trust becomes susceptible to manipulation, disguised under the veneer of affection. From the very outset, Kamble, along with his cinematographer Abhishek Rai, injects a vibrant energy into the world of Pihu. The contrast between the vivid external world and the sombre confines of her home is striking, particularly when we catch our first glimpse of her father's face. Slow-motion shots are employed at the beginning to capture the buoyant atmosphere surrounding the child. Towards the end, Slow-motion shots reappear to intensify the climactic confrontation between the husband and wife, emphasizing the emotional turmoil and tension between them.
As the film ends, Pihu stands at the crossroads of innocence and revelation, where the candies that once symbolized pure joy now reflect the bitter complexities of an adult world encroaching upon her tender realm. In the final shot of the film, the candies and the wrappers, once tokens of a simple exchange, now serve as relics of a bygone innocence, forever altered by the revelations that taint their sweetness with the bitter aftertaste of life's complexities. Consequently, the symbolic weight of the film's title becomes apparent as it encapsulates the impact of bitter revelations on the once simple and innocent memorabilia of childhood.
Chocolate Wrapper was selected in the Short & Documentary Panorama section of the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival in 2023.
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