Director: Qasim Khallow
Cast: Shweta Tripathi, Vipin Sharma, Jitendra Kumar
First, let’s admire the title – it’s clever and so apt for a story about a girl with alopecia – a condition in which your immune system attacks your hair follicles, which leads to balding. Hair might mostly be made up of dead cells but it is such an essential part of our vanity that this is a horror we can’t imagine. Which is why hair loss is a multi-billion dollar industry around the globe. And why the story of Enakshi, a young bald girl in Siliguri, instantly grabs you.
There is no doubt that writer-director Qasim Khallow has the right intentions. Gone Kesh depicts Enakshi’s struggle to come to terms with her condition and strongly advocates self-acceptance. Qasim locates the humour – so Enakshi’s aunt inquires whether she bathes with the wig or if she washes it separately. He is also able to create a genuine warmth with Enakshi and her parents – their bond forms the emotional core of the film. And the performances hold it together – lead Shweta Tripathi and Vipin Sharma and Deepika Amin as her parents are all solid. So is Jitendra Kumar as her somewhat bewildered suitor Sujoy. It’s a brave choice for Shweta – this might be Hindi cinema’s first bald heroine.
But I think that this story might have been better served as a short film. There isn’t enough meat here to merit a feature. The craft also wobbles. The entire story is propelled by a dance competition and we are repeatedly told that Enakshi is a wonderful dancer but we barely see her dance. And in the climax, when everything comes to a head, her dancing prowess is shown through reaction shots of the audience and her parents. There isn’t a single shot of her actually dancing.
There are throwaway moments here that will make you smile – like a momo shop called Wong Kar Wai momos. But the sweetness of the story barely lingers. I’m going with two and a half stars.