Xunyota (Void, 2022) : A subtle stroke of pain and yearning
'In the thirty-minute long short film, Xunyota, Nabapan Deka, the director, delicately handles the pangs of loneliness and the plight of a young girl with poignance', writes Dipankar Sarkar
Dipankar Sarkar, an Indian film critic and an alumnus of FTII, Pune writes, Xunyota adopts an observational approach and emphasises the creation of ordinary lives, making them a vibrant reality.
Humans frequently seek healing in a variety of ways to overcome their sadness and predicament. The physical stillness and emptiness that our suffering creates are at the centre of human consciousness. In the thirty-minute long short film, Xunyota, Nabapan Deka, the director, delicately handles the pangs of loneliness and the plight of a young girl with poignance. The protagonist is a young woman whose daily routine is entangled in difficult situations. She must fight to maintain her responsibility as a daughter and balance her emotional composure at the same time. The film's strength comes from its quiet revelations that shape the narrative into an engrossing watch.
Bina (Bidya Bharti), a young student, battles through life while her mother struggles with a fatal illness. Despite being aware of her mother's health, she maintains optimism. Looking after her had overwhelmed Bina to such an extent that she now seems to be in confinement. Her disposition seems excessively sympathetic for someone caught in unfavourable circumstances. On her way back from school, she takes pleasure in plucking gooseberries from trees. The story of the film is a journey through her coming to terms with life and its unexpected turns. It is a moving account of a personal tragedy that screams out to the world.
Xunyota adopts an observational approach and emphasises the creation of ordinary lives, making them a vibrant reality. Nabapan focuses intently on Bina's struggle, and his camera barely allows her to escape the frame, as if she were a person imprisoned in personal situations. The film relies mostly on long and medium shots in which the environment is equally imposing and riveting as the human character. This helps us observe a courageous mortal with humanism and sincerity. The treatment of the film evocatively depicts the chaos of aching experiences with minimalism and sophistication. After all, simple stories can illuminate the most nuanced aspects of human nature, a truth that emotionally impacts daily life.
The film is a triumph in all its technical departments. Nihal Bhandari's evocative, lyrical camera captures the beauty of rural Assam as well as the protagonist's turmoil with all of its moods and emotions. The elliptical scenes of the film are seamlessly woven together by the editing duo of Joydeep Mukherjee and Divya Hansda to create an uninterrupted visual flow. Nabapan, who also designed the film's sound, carefully crafts the film's auditory world with nuances that lend a coustic verisimilitude to the narrative.
As Xunyota nears its end, it becomes an exercise to display how silence can also be used as a powerful language of expression. Devoid of any strong plot twists or dramatic thrust, it is Bidya Bharti's brave and rousing performance that ensures that she carries the emotional heft of the film solely on her shoulders. Her physical expressiveness, displayed with her face and body, conveys both resignation and tenacious self-belief. The film's notch is raised by the authenticity of her expression.