Recently, I attended a screening of a short film at the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. In today’s perspective article I will be reviewing, ‘Kaya.’
Before plunging into the review, here are a few details about the film itself.
Screening Date: 19th January 2019
Languages: Hindi, Marathi & English
- Vasudev Menon as Siddharth Murthy
- Ashwini Dasgupta as mother of friend
- Abhijit Patil as friend 1
- Ketaki Phatak as friend 2
- Bhavaish Bhatija as waiter
- Arun Bhagwat as prop shop owner
- Harish Kulkarni as Man on the hill
- Isha Pungaliya as girlfriend
- Director: Isha Pungaliya
- Cinematographer: Pavel Nalini Natarajan
- Editor: Raghavender Vuppuganti
- Sound Design and Edit: Vipul Pol
Where to watch?
At the moment the film is still being sent to festivals and it is therefore unavailable for the public to see. Future screenings are also planned in Pune as well as Mumbai.
To stay updated with ‘Kaya’ go and like its page on Facebook by clicking here.
About the Director – Isha Pungaliya
A filmmaker, actor, director, writer and trainer, Isha is passionately involved with a variety of film and theatre projects. With a master’s in media and Cultural Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; a Diploma in Film Direction from LV Prasad Film and TV Academy, Chennai, she is interested in exploring formal, narrative and thematic factors and strategies that challenge conventional, formulaic and normative practices in prose, cinema as well as theatre.
She is a co-founder of the English theatre group, The Drama Queens, Pune. She is also involved as an actor as well as director. She has been actively involved in all its productions. She is presently busy finalizing an original film script based on Jorge Luis Borges’ short story, The Circular Ruins, as well as co-writing a play about the Millennial-age that we all live in. Questions of art, creativity and freedom are of immense interest and intrigue to her presently, through the conceptualization and assisting on curation of an art project, ‘The Leavers’ she is attempting to give shape and expression to this preoccupation. The project attempts to imagine an alternate and non-patriarchal human history and the contemporary consequences of such a possibility.
Her other short films and documentaries:
‘In the Wake of The Hill’ (2013), ‘Dwaraka’ (2014), ‘Landmass’ (2016), The ‘Oran’ (2017)and Kaya (2018) engage with a wide range of concerns related to self and the other, identity, gender, power etc.
Is it possible to envision an alternative to our fragmented and alienating reality? Kaya dares to imagine the connections and fullness of experience that transcend bodies, matter, time and space through Siddharth. An ordinary man, Siddharth embarks on a journey, at once grave and light-hearted, of becoming the other. Inviting you on a surreal journey, Kaya explores Siddharth’s transformative quest, which is emotional as well as detached and which has neither beginning nor end.
Note: This is a spoiler free review
Today, I will be focusing less on the technical aspects of the film and more on what I ‘felt’ while/after watching it. My review will be followed by ‘A word from the Director’
Kaya is my first short film and my first film which I watched as a ‘screening.’ The film itself was an experience to watch, and to an extension writing this review is a new experience for me as it is something I have never done before. With that being said, let us begin.
The film captures your attention from the opening shot itself. First feeling was that of ‘inquisitiveness.’ Having come to the screening without any prior knowledge about the film, I was engrossed. As the film progressed, I could feel that something was a little ‘eerie’ about the protagonist Siddharth Murthy (played by Vasudev Memon).
Few minutes thereon, I shall be honest, I was lost (the inquisitiveness was still present) and kept trying to discern what was going on. For the duration of the film, I pondered over what it was about. It kept changing with every scene. Having studied psychology ‘here and there’ back in school, I concluded that the film was about ‘dissociative disorder.’ My interpretation was purely an academic one, however the post film discussion revealed to me that it was much more than some mental disorder.
The film touched upon a very philosophical topic of the inter-connection of things in this universe. How deep can our connection with things (not just people) like rocks, flowers, animals, trees, air etc. be? Can our connection be so deep that we become part of them or vice-versa? The film does a good job at presenting the above questions without explicitly stating them.
What I liked about this film was that instead of attempting to answer the questions mentioned above, it focused more on presenting the questions to us and provide a visual reference for forming our own interpretations or even the answers to questions which are so abstract in nature.
Even after the film has ended you will find yourself ‘musing’ over it. ‘What ifs’ will pop up in your mind. Hence, it does have a captivating effect on the viewer’s mind. If we were to compare its captivation, then think of ‘Inception‘ or ‘Interstellar‘ type of captivation.
Coming to the technical aspects of the film, I loved the background score. It was appropriate at all times and adds to the seriousness as well as the aura of mystery surrounding it.
For a film like Kaya, the concept at the center of focus is so abstract and open to interpretations. The screenplay and the cinematography hold up well and provide for a memorable experience.
My favorite character is that of the mother played by Ashwini Dasgupta. Though she was there on screen briefly, her facial expressions and acting felt natural. The opening shot of the film is supposed to be ‘awkward’ and it was her presence which achieved the objective.
In conclusion, Kaya is one of a kind. If you get the opportunity, watch it. As a great filmmaker once said, ‘a film should create a reaction.’ It was able to elicit a reaction from me in the form of this review. I hope it does the same for you as well!
A word from the director
For a long time before I wrote the script I had been struggling with the idea of the world’s interconnections through materiality. Whatever or whoever we come in touch with, to some extent becomes us and we become it or them.
Its as if an imprint of the connection is left on both material beings. I wanted to take this idea to its logical extreme where the connection goes far beyond an imprint and in fact can turn one materiality into another. All this is best explored through cinema because the medium lends us the possibility of replacement of one object or person by another thereby establishing the deepest connections/ Its like when people in love feel their involvement in and understanding of their lover is so deep, they become the other, they become their lover. What if one could understand the world around us to such depths that we become it?
We tried to make this very abstract idea tangible by way of making the film. The success of the idea being conveyed depends both on our expertise as filmmakers and the audience’s abilities of reception and imagination/ At the same time because the idea is so abstract, the film creates multiple interpretations within the audience, and we welcome all of them.
The only wish is that the film captivates and creates an experience that is new and moving both intellectually and corporeally.