Film: Crossing Bridges
Cast: Anshu Jamsenpa, Phuntsu Khrime
Director: Sange Dorjee Thongdok
A wonderful evocation of a back-to-roots journey of self discovery, realization and acceptance, this Rajat Kamal (Best Director-National Awards) awarded film sparks an inveiglement that is quietly unaffected and that too without the trappings of mainstream genre afflictions.
The one hour and forty four minutes film in Sherdukpen (Arunachalee) language tells a story of a young man, Tashi (Phuntsu Khrime) working with a multi-national IT company in Mumbai who gets retrenched due to financial meltdown and is forced to return home while he waits for the court case against the company to bear fruit…or if that doesn’t work, try to find another job through his Mumbai based friend. But once he is home he feels alienated from his roots and becomes restless for something to do. Teaching part-time in the local school keeps him busy for a bit and bonding with Anila (Amshu Jamsenpa) a fellow native and school teacher renders some hope for emotional fulfilment but…is it enough for him to renew his roots.
Satyajit Ray Institute alumni, Director Sange Dorjee Thongdok’s narrative beautifully works in the themes of displacement, disenchantment, cultural alienation, stunted romance, rediscovering of a healing way of life within the cultural bonds of the home state and the crying need for employment in the far flung regions of India where people live in virtual isolation from the mainland.
And it’s done in a subtle unassuming and unaffected way. As we get to know of Tashi’s inner struggle, the empathy builds up slowly allowing for a gentle intimacy with the lead character and his troubles. The drama lies in the nature of the plotting rather than the histrionics of its actors. Anila and Tashi share an unspoken and unexpressed bond but they also know that their culture would disallow them from uniting as lovers.
It was okay for Tashi to have a live-in relationship outside the hometown but when at home, the cards are played differently. Tashi, who has lived life with more freedom outside, initially, struggles with the demons of cultural bondage while Anila(who is unexposed to the outside world) promised to another, has the fortitude to accept that her future lies with another. Their romance is brief and poignantly expressed, presented without the usual male-female stereotype at play.
The cinematography by Pooja Gupte, who shot the film in Cannon 5D is simply breathtaking, allowing for a gradual cultural immurement in the land and its spiritual enchantment. The narrative is kept spare and economical by editor Sanglap Bhowmick , while the story-telling limits itself to being drawn on realism rather than melodrama. Needless to say, this film is a completely enveloping experience…far more worthy of the price of a multiplex ticket than the regular crassly commercial trash you are used to watching!