Director: Palash Sen
Cast: Kinshuk Sen, Sahiba Bali, Kashish Arora
Jiya Jaye, a short film made by Dr. Palash Sen (you remember), is anything but euphoric. It joins the long list of simplistic cinematic interpretations of Hindi cinema’s favourite child of conflict, Kashmir. The lead singer of the late-1990s Indian rock band, Euphoria, seems to have trained his voice on storytelling – but Jiya Jaye is actually somewhat of a cutesy family affair, given that it is written by Sen’s sister, scored (excessively) by the band, and stars his young son, Kinshuk, as an Indian military officer revisiting his roots like a Bollywood hero instead of an informed real-world citizen. How else can one explain his happy-go-lucky return to his childhood flame’s (Sahiba Bali; her name outshines her talent) home in an army uniform, completely ignorant about the separatism that now runs deep within these walls?
In fact, this might have worked better as one of Euphoria’s old-school music videos – without dialogues, obvious characters, tired political undertones and strained acting. The film seems to have been made around the title track, instead of vice versa. It even begins in the format, with two Kashmiri kids (little Shiv and Inayat) playing and singing together, oblivious of their different religions and the volatile region’s simmering conflict.
When he returns as a bouncy adult, the chemistry between the two is awkward not on a character level but because their performances feel so uncomfortable. She responds ambiguously and timelessly (“Everything has changed, Shiv, including you and me”), clearly mouthing lines rather than having a practical conversation.
Palash Sen is only just cutting his teeth with the craft – still visibly excited by a power to create full-scale drama out of tiny moments. His skills, though, are very derivative
Shiv, a new recruit, is unaware of the statement his uniform makes, and argues like a complete layman when his childhood friends, her brothers – now gruff militant separatists – come home for dinner. He should have gotten the message when she didn’t reply to his letters for years. But no, this is a film that relies on the gullibility and suddenness of its tragically written faces. The makers would like to have us believe that such behavioral intricacies don’t matter because it’s the music – the “feel” – of the environment that should affect us. Well, it doesn’t. We’ve seen it way too many times to be enamored by the whole ‘paradise lost’ packaging.
Palash Sen is only just cutting his teeth with the craft – still visibly excited by a power to create full-scale drama out of tiny moments. His skills, though, are very derivative. It still feels like a celebrity comeback more than a curious effort by a learner. The premise looks nice as a short story; thankfully, it’s only a 22-minute short film when it could have very well been a long-winding and indulgent 110-minute communal drama. Small mercies. One expects better from the otherwise perceptive platform, Large Short Films, than easy “opportunities” like this.
Watch Jiya Jaye here: