Writer-director Barnali Ray Shukla debuted with Kucch Luv Jaisaa in 2011. In two consecutive years, 2013 and 2014 her scripts were long-listed for the SUNDANCE-Mahindra Script Lab, one of which she will be making as a feature film in Bengali, next year. She’s currently traveling with her documentary Liquid Borders, which has been doing terrific rounds across India, Italy and North America.
There is never one word for this feeling but here is something I wish to put my finger on. Intimacy. I tried to look for something more commonplace but here I am. It doesn’t take a love song to tell us about this unabashed connect that most of us feel but very few of us have been there. Intimacy is not about taking off clothes. It is easier to show skin than to bare our fears, vulnerability, compassion and self-respect. That comes closest to being intimate.
My debut film as a writer-director, Kucch Luv Jaisaa set out to just do that. That was the summer of 2011 when the film released in theatres. There were ones who chose to go to the theatres to watch it, over saving up for Salman Khan’s Ready that followed up the next week. In hindsight, many realize that the film deserved a better release and even the marketing vehicle had to connect more intimately to its audience, not slip into the coma of one-size-fits all. More so focused on the aspirational India which lives not so much in the metropolitan cities but in the bigger towns, smaller cities which are looped amidst today’s globalized body with Indian spirit. The milieu is remarkable of our 70-year-old adolescent country whose voice has begun to crack.
Recommended: Durga Sohay (2017) Review: Satisfying Thriller & Family Drama
Despite our teeming millions we are getting lonely. More often than not finding a connect with a stranger is perhaps more easier than someone we are related to. As they say, relationships are conditional but love is not.
Madhu Saxena (played by Shefali Shah) and Raghav Passport (Rahul Bose) get a taste of that in this film. The story unfurls on Feb 29th and it so happens that both of them Madhu and Raghav have their birthdays on this day. That is all that they have in common.
Raghav is a white-collar criminal and peddles duplicate passports. He wishes to get done with a life that is risqué.
Madhu has tamed herself into domesticity, motherhood and an inherent goodness so central to the recommended staple diet of our societal structure.
On the 29th morning, except a random call from a cake shop and her parents, no one really seems to remember her big day. The world that she has made the centre of her universe, spins with or without her. The first kind of intimacy that we lose is the one we once had with our own self. And so has Madhu. Today she is not even sure what possibly could be better to continue being the concierge service to her home, hearth and loved ones. Or is it better that she unearths the girl-woman she was?
Kucch Luv Jaisaa is what we chose to call this caper of finding out.
Read: ‘I, Daniel Blake One Of The Most Underrated Films’: Director Milind Dhaimade Writes
She could either sit and sulk. Or go out and get a peek into the life that she has been missing lately. And that is what forms the narrative of the film. The day unravels after her run-in with this oddly endearing stranger Raghav, whom she meets at a coffee shop. The conversation begins when she feigns a search for this lighter which she has forgotten in her car. Smoking is where it begins, bad for our health we are warned and yet she makes her choice. My idiom of finding that lost spark and this time something between a stranger and her.
This is the beginning of a journey that we all will do, albeit not always known to us. About touching lives, with no agenda except to be our own truest self and see what the day holds for us. We encounter the finest when we least plan it. If lucky, we even meet ourselves.
I dislike U-turns. I rarely look back but today seemed to be that day when I revisited so much through my film. A share felt necessary with strangers who are perhaps a ‘hello’ short of being acquaintances, if not friends. Listening is a big, warm hug we can give strangers, in this world fragmenting, one sigh at time.
I fondly remember my tribute to the lesser heard and misunderstood ones, as Raghav tells Madhu in a voice that’s more intimate than the rustle of the sheets:
“samjhaaney waley bahut hai Madam, samajhne wala..koi nahi”
By Barnali Ray Shukla
Recommended: 7 Best Bengali Movies On Amazon Prime
Truly a delicate yet strong and beautiful film. Wish it had reached a much wider audience. More power to you Barnali…sail on.
Thank you so much Anjali. So glad you saw and felt every detail that went into ourfilm. Sailing on becomes nicer with ones like you
Keep making films, this was so close to my heart!
Thank you, won’t let you down! Will always treasure this 🙂
Was wonderful to watch Rahul Bose and Shefali together..watched your film twice ..
They are just wonderful actors to have on board..grateful to people like you,who actually go out to theatres and watch films,a big thank you from the entire community
There….you’ve done it again Barnali : written so beautifully about a film made with so much love and care….weaving magic with words, as always. May you keep on filming all the awesome stuff you write ……
Thank you Sonali. You are so generous. This journey becomes wonderful with support and encouragement.
So rare and thus, so special.
Commendable work ma’am!!!!!. It is people like you who are able to showcase and reflect the real side of the society by giving a a strong message. Waiting for more of your work.
loads of best wishes
Thank you so much Garvita. We all sincerely accept your wishes and look forward to growing up together..this feels truly special
When u write..
“The world fragmenting one sigh at a time” and ….
“India’s cracked voice” , among your other observations,
I know I’m reading words that come from your intelligent sensitive and artistic fabric.
You are a warrior in a time where humanity needs to be saved.
Suffice to say I’m proud of you
So very kind of you Ruxana. Your support means a lot to all on board. A big thank you!
I love your description of the film but most importantly the way in which you dissect and write about intimacy. All of it is true; I’m sure you have had the experience of being somewhere and looking into the eyes of someone you don’t know, never exchanging a word but knowing, for that brief instant , that you really see and connect with each other. Most commonly, immediately after, we turn away and go on with our lives. I like that your characters didn’t. I also simply like the way you write, your use of metaphor and ability to take a straightforward comment and turn it into something deeper ( something that is already there but brought out by your use of language ). Very beautiful and insightful.
Really appreciate your generous and thoughtful feedback Gerald. I hope you are in India soon and get to watch our film on Netflix .
Do tell me your experience with the ‘characters’ and their
film-journey, to see why they didn’t promptly turn away and go on with their lives.