Somoyer Smritimala (Memories of Time, 2022): A Tale of Urbanity and Its Intricacies
Noted Indian film critic and an alumnus of FTII, Pune, Dipankar Sarkar reviews Gautam Ghosh’s film, Somoyer Smritimala (2022).
Gautam Ghosh’s thirty-six-minute short film Somoyer Smritimala provides an observational perspective on the lives of an urban couple, Kabir Basu (Suman Mukhopadhyay) and Sumita (Gargee Roy Chowdhury), whose quotidian activities develop into a series of moments that open a window to love, chance, life, and coincidence. The two characters spend a large portion of the film on the verge of tension and the vagaries of life, yet they do not lose their moral core. It is a chronicle of the feeling of being disoriented and unanchored in one's emotional existence.
The story of the film unfolds non-linearly. Kabir, a journalist, and Sumita, a teacher, live in the city of Kolkata. During Corona, like thousands of individuals around the world, they too are trapped inside their apartment. Sumita takes online classes, and Kabir receives threats from a person who is not happy with his political opinion. Once the lockdown rules are relaxed, both of them visit Purulia to get a breath of fresh air.
Ghosh has constructed the short film with these two characters without giving the film a conventional conclusion. The two protagonists of the film appear like tragically overburdened symbols of modern society. He never allows the viewers to know everything about the traits of these two characters. At the same time, nothing very dramatic usually happens in the film, or at least nothing loud and violent. The characters are usually too well-behaved and sometimes too distracted by their own problems to pay much attention to the story that the filmmaker has thrust them into. The treatment of the film is dramatic but not generic. The way the story is presented reflects the rhythms and realities of our daily lives. The mannerisms of these two characters are believable, and it does not instantly feel like they are talking to one another in a language that is scripted. The movie pays close attention to both sound and stillness to convey underlying emotions of isolation, anxiety, warmth, and connection.
The performers' charisma plays a significant role in the film's appeal. They are often affable, intelligent, and well-educated, and while we want them to find happiness, we won't be too upset if they don't. The real draw may be that they live similar lives to ours but in different bodies and with different friends. Their choices in their everyday lives are driven by their quest for survival are often affable, intelligent, and well-educated, and while we want them to find happiness, we won't be too upset if they don't. The real draw may be that they live similar lives to ours but in different bodies and with different friends. Their choices in their everyday lives are driven by their quest for survival. But in comparison to the two actors, Gargee Roy Chowdhury is much more convincing than Suman Mukhopadhyay.
Although not a perfect film, it loses some of its grasp on the subject midway. It adheres to a storyline that veers between "indie" and the Euro-Asian art film. Ghosh keeps the plot straightforward and unremarkable, but he falls into the trap of using the same scenarios over and over and relying largely on atmosphere to extend the running time. It is one of those films that demands our patience as we get involved with the trials and tribulations within the lives of the characters.