Director: Navjot Gulati
Cast: Diksha Juneja, Gajraj Rao, Gurpal Singh, Suhail Nayyar
Ghumakkad is a short film I personally want to relate to. With its Queen-like theme, it tries – through a snapshot of one ordinary day – to explore some of the unglamorous practicality behind the concept of romanticism. It’s about a young, not-so-carefree traveler (as opposed to the oft-abused millennial term #wanderlust) who’s somewhere between loving to escape and needing to escape. She hasn’t yet reached a stage where she has learned to snap the strings that keep her rooted to an increasingly claustrophobic, but necessary, base.
The urban, social-media-savvy girl (Diksha Juneja) seems to be the kind of new-age “solo” adventurer who wouldn’t know why to roam the world if nobody was watching her. What hasn’t dawned upon her is that if she didn’t have a cluttered Mumbai existence to escape, she wouldn’t really enjoy the aspirational act of being away. But somewhere along its twenty-minute running time, most of which unfurls on her day back in the city after three months, the film lost me a little.
There’s a commercial self-awareness to its form that doesn’t make Ghumakkad the quintessential mini coming-of-age tale it’s designed to be
I understand the idea that freedom comes at a cost, and that Indian society views “traveling” as a lifestyle equivalent of writing for a living (“all that is fine, but what do you actually do?”). But writer-director Navjot Gulati makes the girl’s seemingly organic return to civilization look very deliberate. He fills it in with strange needy characters (they know they’re characters, not faces), untimely quirk, awkward transitions, a self-conscious background score and planned lines that somewhat miss the wind still running through her hair. The premise is relatable, but the method is not.
For instance, the whole meeting-a-stranger-in-cab conversation doesn’t come across as an existential game changer – at least not the effective epiphany-inducing moment the maker needs it to be. Though it feels long, perhaps twenty minutes is too short a duration to convey such a broad thought, or to depict a mind far too complex for her impulsive expeditions.
There’s a commercial self-awareness to its form that doesn’t make Ghumakkad the quintessential mini coming-of-age tale it’s designed to be. Maybe on another day, the makers might realize that inner turmoil need not necessarily be verbose and full of “colour”. It can be quiet, and reflective, and not always watchable, like most of our solo journeys tend to really be.
Watch Ghumakkad here: