Film Review: Giddh (The Scavenger, 2022): The Desperate Anguish of Endurance

Dipankar Sarker writes in this critical review , " Manish Saini's short film, "Giddh,"  challenges viewers to reflect on the choices we make in the face of adversity and the profound impact these choices can have on our consciences. "

Dec 23, 2023 - 06:54
Dec 23, 2023 - 06:55
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Film Review: Giddh (The Scavenger, 2022): The Desperate Anguish of Endurance
Image: Film Poster

Giddh, a short film by Manish Saini, challenges viewers to reflect on the choices we make in the face of adversity and the profound impact these choices can have on our consciences. Veteran actor Sanjay Mishra portrays an elderly man who grapples with moral ambiguity due to drastic circumstances. As he maneuvers through an ethically uncertain terrain, it conveys the depth of his struggle. The desperation and anguish that permeate his existence, juxtaposed against the harsh realities of his poverty and the desperate need for survival, create a poignant atmosphere. The film carefully navigates the fine line between survival instincts and ethical culpability, forcing the audience to confront the complexities of human desperation.

 The film's fluency lies in its ability to convey a profound and emotionally charged story without relying on minimal dialogue. The silence of the protagonist becomes a universal language, allowing viewers to connect with the character on a visceral level. The act of stealing the clothes of the deceased, though born out of desperation, becomes a source of internal conflict for the protagonist. The burning grounds, a symbol of death and finality, serve as a backdrop for the protagonists' desperate attempt to make a living. The creative choice of the cleansing act in the river, though, becomes an emblem of his attempt to purify his actions but does not suggest a glimmer of hope for redemption. The themes of poverty, desperation, and moral dilemma are woven together seamlessly, creating a narrative embroidery that lingers in the audience's mind. This becomes evident in the scenes where the rapid success in selling the clothes reflects the harsh realities of survival and the lengths people may go to escape poverty. The turning point in the narrative takes place when a woman asks him if he sells children's clothes. The scene is followed by the revelation of a tragic incident, which serves as a moral twist for the man as the weight of his actions crashes down on him.

Saini skillfully leverages the contrast between the downtrodden appearance of Sanjay Mishra and the transformative events that unfold. The audience is drawn into the emotional depth of the narrative, and Mishra's portrayal becomes a vessel for the silent struggles faced by many in similar circumstances. The collaboration between cinematography and editing becomes evident in the film's overall aesthetic cohesion. Cinematographer Swathy Deepak's use of visuals to convey the atmosphere is highlighted through the images, becoming powerful visual metaphors. The claustrophobic setting of the room becomes an insight into the intimate struggles of the old man negotiating the ways of his life. Whereas, the gigantic tree at the cremation ground allows for a contemplative exploration of the protagonist's emotions and the dilemmas he faces. Saini, who has also edited the film, creates a rhythm that complements the unfolding events, giving the audience time to absorb the visual and emotional nuances of each scene. He crafts a compelling story that transcends language, using visuals and nuanced performances to explore a desperate human condition to remain alive.

Giddh was selected in the competitive section of the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival, 2023.

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