Director: Sumit Kumar
Cast: Archita Agarwal, Amaan Asif
You can always tell when a certain piece of art is inspired by the artist’s life. At times, difficult scenes play out wishfully, almost as if the maker hopes for this version to replace reality. Other times, you can sense the “translated” nature of a moment; a purposeful message is being sent to the people/events that may have influenced the film.
But occasionally, the work feels therapeutic and personal, as if the director/writers are trying to “complete” an emotion. They tend to relive an intense situation through fictitious characters in order to examine their own reactions. They might have had time to reflect, achieve a degree of closure and perhaps come to a conclusion about incomplete feelings. Meera is one such short film.
The scene: the end of a marriage. The situation is fairly universal and subjective: a young man (Amaan Asif, as Gaurav) returns from work to break the news to his wife (Archita Agarwal, as Naina) that he is leaving her for another woman.
Years of cinema have conditioned us to expect a few tears, the melodramatic sound of hearts breaking, and plenty of introspection and some millennial chaos. Breakups and breakdowns travel hand in hand. Here’s where Meera intends to subvert the template – Naina’s reaction may initially seem unreal, weird and desperate to make the film “different,” but on closer observation, her response is highly relatable. And ironically, it could be the grammar of this reaction – her habit of being the graceful martyr – that may have caused him to feel condescended upon, unequal and grow distant in the first place.
We come to understand that she has maybe practiced this dreaded scene in her mind so often that the thin line between unconditional love and independent self-worth has been blurred. We all hope for separation to be mutual and dignified, but the heart often bleeds behind closed doors.
Naina’s attitude is admirable, which is why it is also very tragic – depictive, without any gender politics, of a companionship that has passed its sell-by date.
Director Sumit Kumar may have just gotten a little too indulgent, a little too involved, in his execution; corny quotes (“love can be magic” etc.) are self-defeating when employed in a visual medium that thrives on conveying thoughts without spelling them out. Ditto for a piano-heavy background score, though in this case it lends a pronounced soundtrack to Naina’s sentiments for us to understand the magnitude of belated regret.
Most importantly, while some of us may not agree with the ambiguity (or pretend-twist) of this night, Meera is a well-acted film. Its performers seem to be borrowing some difficult lessons – which is half the battle won for a short film attempting to encapsulate the personality of an entire relationship in a “meeting”.
Watch Meera here: