A musical train journey, a 20-something couple in love, romance, ambitions, confessions, heartbreaks and everything in between! Side A Side B opens with composer Sudeep Swaroop on the guitar, Shivranjini on the vocals, in the backdrop of rain, and warm, snug moments of first love, almost immediately inviting you into its world and the journey ahead.
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But our much-in-love leads Joel (Rahul Rajkhowa) and Shivi (Shivranjini Singh) find their relationship on a rickety trail as they set out on this long journey. Guwahati to Bombay. Their lives will never be the same again. These 44 hours will take away something from both or maybe not.
Side A Side B isn’t a regular musical. Here the leads perform live to every song in the film. And our tremendously talented duo Rahul (guitarist and singer) and Shivi (singer) infuse character into each of these compositions. Rahul is a master instrumentalist and Shivi’s voice is seductive, enigmatic and playful. The lyrics (by Raja Sen) are contemporary, catchy, and propel the narrative. The narrative segues from a song to the story and back to another song. Each song is a story in itself. They’re like conversations, that aid the narrative.
Writer and independent filmmaker Sudhish Kamath laces the screenplay with some clever writing. The use of split screen is an important component of the story. He uses the technique effectively to show the two sides of the story, and the passage of time. It keeps the goings-on engaging and pacy. And the visuals from the flashbacks are incredibly evocative.
There is a documentary-like look and feel to the film, in how it’s shot, how the story unfolds and the exchanges between the characters.
Side A Side B was shot in five days, on the move, with the crew actually traveling from Guwahati to Mumbai with just a two camera set-up – an iPhone 6S Plus and a Samsung S7.
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Rahul and Shivranjini seem comfortable in their parts. Their conversations are raw, real, unrehearsed. Rahul exudes a raw charm and there’s an ease in Shivaranjini’s performance. Her eyes and expressions, understatedly, convey the constant fear/dilemma she’s in.
The nostalgic title is an instant throwback to the days of audio tapes and cassettes. And in a nod to old times, there are also some popular (and some cheesy) songs from the nineties refashioned with a modern, contemporary twist. (They’ll make you forget the originals 😉 )
Sudhish, do we have a part two in the offing?
By Mansi Dutta