If you Google the symptoms of cabin fever (or the feeling one experiences when stuck in an isolated space for a long period of time), you’d notice how a lot of them are similar to what one experiences during insomnia. On the 15th day of the lockdown, there’s only two ways you could have handled sleep till now; either you’ve been sleeping too much or too little. In both cases, irritability, fatigue, restlessness, laziness, and trouble focussing are bound to be messing with our mindspace now.
Directed by Sudeep Elamon and Goutham Surya, the 2018 Malayalam film Sleeplessly Yours, available on YouTube with English subtitles, perfectly captures a form of disorientation a lot of us are feeling right now. The difference, of course, is that our present state of mind is involuntary, unlike the film’s leads Jessi (Sudev Nair) and Manasi (Devaki), who decide to go on a form of self-inflicted insomnia.
Days and nights don’t matter anymore and we start following their story when Jessi wakes up after several days of forced sleeplessness to realise that Manasi has gone missing. Has she run away? Is she unwell? Has Jessi killed her? These are just a few of the many questions that come up as the film keeps cutting back to those sleepless nights to piece together what happened between these two lovers.
A non-linear film that requires our complete attention, you’d be closely observing even the dark circles on both the actors to give yourself a timeline to understand the film’s chronology. With excellent performances by Sudev Nair and Devaki, the film takes us through different phases of their relationship, right from the rosy flirtations of the first meeting to bitter arguments that result from lack of trust, commitment and, of course, sleep. Shot (by Sudeep Elamon) to replicate the desperate attempts of a man grabbing at a series of memories that are slowly disappearing, Sleeplessly Yours is not just a dissection of the real and the unreal. It is just as good at criss-crossing that thin line between sanity and insanity.