When two filmmakers meet after fifteen years, and one of them narrates a script to the other, they find the past catches up with them…
Access to equipment and the cost factor makes digital filmmaking more and more attractive for low budget filmmakers today. The danger with this is that at times, quality seems to suffer in wrong hands. However, when used correctly, one is able to create and say something, which he or she has been dying to say for a long time. Thankfully, Ramchandra PN’s Haal-E-Kangaal falls into the latter category. The film celebrates the liberation of a creative filmmaker, who effectively uses several inherent limitations of the digital format to his advantage.
For a ‘talking’ film (and there is a lot of it) to hold your interest for such a long time, is quite a feat. The film too has some odd bits, but that is a problem inherent with the choice the filmmaker has made. He confines two characters in a constricted space and then gives them words to weave a fabric. The actors have by and large ably taken up the challenge. The script they discuss is loaded and confusing. It turns out they are discussing someone else’s work which they, at basic level, cannot fathom or reason out. This leads to several humorous explanations so commonly used by film makers who do not know what they are talking about. Trying to grasp it as much as they can, they embark on a journey, which is clearly not related to any of their real life experiences, and neither does it falls within their creative comprehension.
Exploring the man-woman relationship with a delicate touch, the film takes you on a journey which is supposedly false. The road traveled by the two main characters (who happen to be males) is a web made of falsehood. All creative endeavor is at one level a falsehood. But human existence itself is at the root and reason of that activity. The woman, the wife of one of the filmmakers) is very much present even through her physical absence. She is the creative force and the unseen child, a reality.
Apart from many other questions, the central question seems to be about who fathered the child. Mankind has come to deal with this question so often. Two grown-up men raise the question of impotence which sounds fundamental to them. They in a way also voice their own fear of it. Are humans deemed potent or relevant through their sexual prowess only? Is the potency associated, only with the ability to produce, to procreate? Where is that elusive space for love, which humans long for? This fundamental human question has no easy answers.
Being just a two character film, much rests on the actors’ performances. Niraj Sah and Hemant Mahaur are the life-savers of the film, effortlessly indulging in what seems to be a vicarious wet dream of an adolescent. While they maintain excellent continuity of their emotions and dialogues, one has to be prepared to be patient and indulge them in their ramblings. Which if one does, one finds the film a rewarding experience.
The camera easily lives and breathes in small spaces in the film. The wide angle lens creates a weird cocoon showing the two individuals hopelessly trapped. The jump cuts as a narrative device give you that interrupted feel and suggest the implausibilities in the narrative. The sound design has created a well-thought out fabric of a familiar world. The cultural references on the background music track in the narrative sounded odd and out of place at times. But as a different realization dawns, it gets contextualized at the end.
Overall, Haal-E-Kangaal takes you on an enriching journey provided you are ready to be talked into it.
Hindi, Drama, Color