Director: Ahmed Roy
Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Gulshan Devaiah, Monica Dogra
Royal Stag Large Shorts, perhaps the country’s most effective short-film platform, has been rolling out their ‘Perfect 10’ competition winners from October’s 2017 Mumbai Film Festival. As a result, almost every second day, an intriguing new film – professionally made, peppered with familiar stage and TV faces – drops online. In my opinion, there’s no better way to end a year in which feature-length Hindi cinema has largely failed to make an impact. The quality of these shorts is a reminder that the younger voices are out there; it’s just the weak older ones that are making it to the big screens.
The latest to hit Youtube is a 15-minute Kalki Koechlin and Gulshan Devaiah starrer, The Thought Of You, directed by Ahmed Roy. The film explores the events of one fateful night in the lives of a fragile couple; they’ve visibly been struggling with trust issues, and what starts as a pleasant night out at a friend’s (Monica Dogra) party culminates in the horror of a drunken road accident.
K (Kalki) is a jealous and insecure wife, saddled with the kind of unpredictable temperament we’ve grown to associate with Kangana Ranaut’s on-screen avatars. Even in the opening scene, when the three of them are joking around over some drinks, she subconsciously seems to develop a twang in order to counter the other woman’s American accent. This disappears when she fights with her husband later on.
Perhaps there’s a reason for her attitude: maybe her husband has cheated on her before, or maybe she suspects that her torrid emotional “downswings” may drive him to another woman. Either way, the politics of this equation are made very clear within the first few minutes.
Owing to the filmmaker’s use of a fragmented narrative – one that cuts between the party and the dark, bickering mood of the drive back home – the film is equipped to end with a “twist”. It’s interesting to see the structure he has chosen, though.
Most short thrillers thrive on the nature of the actual revelation, and concentrate all their tiny contrivances into the pursuit of keeping its viewers distracted. But this one thrives on the uneasiness of the fact that we can, probably, see it coming. It nudges us with an explicit clue midway through the film, with a strangely explanatory hospital scene. Perhaps it deliberately puts us in a position of making us think, “Is that really possible?” before confirming our suspicions.
I’m a bit traditional; I enjoy being hit with an absolutely unfeasible plot twist out of nowhere, and then rewinding to analyze the buildup closely. The Thought Of You doesn’t allow me that, but it does make me feel as powerful as the storyteller – by being able to predict the precise anatomy of the climax, moments before it unravels. This, too, is a satisfactory feeling. I’m not sure if it was entirely intentional. But when a drama doesn’t pretend too hard to fool us, it makes for an even more discomforting – and a little more human – experience.
Watch The Thought Of You here: