Kahin Door aur Paas (Somewhere Near and Far, 2022): A poetic and vivid account of everyday life.
In this analysis, Dipankar Sarkar provides insight into the award winning documentary Kahin Door aur Paas.
Gurleen Grewal’s Kahin Door aur Paas, a final year project of the Creative Documentary Course conducted by the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication, examines the mundane activities that take place inside a flat that is located in a recently developed suburban in Delhi and explores the nature of closeness and stillness that can be found inside and outside of the home through the collaborative rhythms and nuances of nuclear family. It delves into the role of family dynamics and captures the family members as they navigate their daily routines. By furtively recording the subtle emotions and unspoken connections that bind them together, the documentary provides a poignant reflection on the universal experiences of love, longing, and solitude within the confines of what constitutes the concept of home.
Image: Film still
The documentary comprises four characters in a sikh family: a middle-aged married couple, Kuljit and Brahmajit Grewal; a young girl, Sapna Brar; and a young man, Zorawar Grewal. The day in the household begins with Brahmajit listening to the morning prayers available online, followed by a dose of current affairs. More than global politics, Kuljit is concerned about the air quality index of her city, Greater Noida. Sapna, who helps Kuljit with household chores, is interested in excelling at mobile gaming. Brahmajit helps Zorawar wear the turban and goes for an occasional ride with his wife, witnessing how the city is developing in terms of real estate. Off late, Kuljit has also developed a keen interest in hand stitching and uploading those images on social media for likes. As the sunsets, the couple entertain themselves by watching old Bollywood songs, whereas the world outside envelopes itself in darkness.
Gurleen, who also wrote the script, shot the documentary, and edited it, never uses techniques to overtly stimulate the viewer's emotions in a didactic way to make a sweeping point or uses a clear narrative structure to instruct. The camera captures the subject's every move with a delicate touch, revealing the subtle emotions and thoughts that accompany their day-to-day activities. Her sparse narrative economy, which is made up of ellipses and spaces, invites the viewers to use their understanding to delineate the invaluable aspects of life through trivial acts of daily living, ultimately emphasizing the beauty in simplicity. Without providing a concrete backdrop, through her introspective lens, the filmmaker follows the characters with effortless ease and captures the joys of living in small quotidian details, like chopping onions, ordering groceries online, and discussing a newfound hobby. The tone of this documentary is quite private and individual, with a theme that is introspective, contemplative and self-reflective in equal measure.
Hopes, worries, joys, dreams and an immeasurable, almost spiritual presence are among the wonderful enchantments that the documentary has to offer. The ethereal atmosphere delights our senses, leaving us yearning for more of its mesmerizing allure. At the 15th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, Kahin Door aur Paas won the award for the best short documentary.