A surrealist short film about reality and dream, which made it to Cannes 2016, is set to screen in Mumbai for the first time this weekend
The trailer opens with a 30-something woman sitting before a mirror. She stares at her reflection with a haunted expression, as if she has just received some unsettling news she can’t cope with. As she sighs deeply, her eyes flicker to a small medicinal bottle. She scoops a single tablet and swallows it with water, and goes back to staring at herself.
For a split second, the screen goes blank. When the visual is back, we again see the woman before a mirror with the same haunted expression. Only this time, she swallows more than just one pill. The cyclic shot repeats itself thrice - each time, the woman consumes more pills.
What follows is a similar pattern: multiple juxtapositions of the same shot over and over with a slight change in events. The peculiar trailer sets the theme for Elixir (2016), a Bengali short film that made it to the Cannes Short Film Corner (CSFC), 2016.
“This is the first time so many Indian films were selected for CSFC. It was amazing that my film was one of them,” says Delhi-based Anirban Guha (36), director, Elixir (India sent 30 short films to Cannes this year). The film will be screened in Mumbai for the first time this weekend.
A surrealist film, the underlying theme of Elixir is mystical drama, and was inspired by a blog written on a BlackBerry smartphone. “My wife, Sinjini, wrote the blog around the fact that we, as people, spend one-third of our lives sleeping. Is it possible, then, that we have a parallel dream life?” says Guha. Guha found the story to be visually appealing and decided to make a film on it. His wife acted as the scriptwriter.
The film is set in a café, where a woman is served a liquid that looks, tastes, and smells like water, but is not water. The story then follows her as she experiences life on a heightened, existential plane.
The project is not only Guha’s directorial debut, but also his first time working on a film. A banker by profession, Guha was a theatre enthusiast in his college days, and has always been interested in storytelling. “I have written and directed several theatrical productions. But making a film was a first,” he says.
How was it to be in charge on a film set? “Personally, I don’t like ordering people around. But still, it’s a different feeling when you’re creating something from scratch. It’s like you’re Sourav Ganguly. You may have Sachin [Tendulkar], Rahul [Dravid] and [MS] Dhoni, on your team, but they are looking to you for leadership,” says Guha.
The analogy is not too far from reality: he did work with noted film talent. Shreya Chatterjee, a National Award-winning editor, was on Guha’s crew. “I met her when I was a producer for a film called Kintsukuroi (2008). She helped me pick the rest of the crew for the film,” says Guha.
Guha submitted the film to Cannes through the official website. He received the news of his film’s selection over email, and then flew to Cannes for the screening. “It took some time to get a hang of the place and the festival. It was most prestigious to show my film to people from Egypt, UK, and other countries, and get their feedback,” says Guha.
Elixir will be screened on July 24, at 8pm
At: The Hive, next to Ahmed Bakery, Khar (W); Call: 96199 62969; Entry: Rs 250
Know the film
Director: Anirban Guha
Scriptwriter: Sinjini Sengupta
Director of Photography: Ravi Kiran Ayyagari
Music: Nilanjan Sen, Shantanu Biswas
Editing: Sreya Chatterjee
Cast: Daminee Benny Basu, Arindom Ghosh, Mahul Brahma, Dr Koushik Dutta and others.