Director: Anshul Tiwari
Writers: Debasmita Dasgupta, Anshul Tiwari
Cast: Ira Dubey, Naseeruddin Shah, Arfi Lamba, Dilshad Patel
I don't have an ear for poetry. But I have an eye for it. And I admire films that channelize pretty words through more than just pretty images. Bin Bulaaye (The Unannounced) opens and closes with a majestic Naseeruddin Shah voiceover scoring visuals of lakes and meadows and forests and skies. The title theme is beautifully composed, part Gustavo Santaolalla, part Rahman, full of melancholy and hope and desire. At some points, you even hear the soothing sounds of water crashing onto the shore and wind weaving through trees. Yet, the most affecting image of this fine 20-minute short features a half-open window. The most affecting sound of this short is that of a tiffin box popping open.
That's because Bin Bulaaye is about unfilmable human emotions like closure and healing. Nature is only a tangible medium of expression. The premise sounds like a premise, but it's really more of a feeling: A woman (Ira Dubey) discovers her late father's diary – his lyrical thoughts, his quiet musings – a year after his demise. His words slowly rebuild her heart, piece by piece, prompting her to reclaim a life without unannounced visitors. There's an ex-boyfriend, an ex-friend, a maternal housemaid who satiates her love for tasty puris. Like most of us who want to believe that our dear departed watch over us, she too senses her father's presence around her, but she also suspects that the maid is slacking and stealing food. The film connects the two – the worldly and the other-worldly – in a manner that's equally uneven and mesmerising. Uneven, because her coming-around moments are clumsily acted. Mesmerising, because you can sense – without seeing – the calming influence of her father's diary on her mind.
It's not easy to design a supernatural element without being eerie or corny about it. But director-editor Anshul turns the psychic into the psychological with a clear sense of craft. As a result, Bin Bulaaye walks the thin line between abstract self-indulgence and spiritual faith. I believe the music plays a big role in tiding over the invisibility of the narrative. It plays a big role in revealing that humans often visit nature, unannounced, when they want to recalibrate and recover. Just as words visit humans, unannounced, once they've recalibrated and recovered.
It's not often I watch a short that leaves in me a nostalgia for something I haven't experienced. It feels less like I've watched a film and more like I've walked on a beach or climbed to the top of a hill, alone, with my thoughts. And my deaf eye for poetry.