I don’t know how many of you know this ? The 18th edition of Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival was open with Konkona Sensharma’s directorial debut ‘A Death in the Gunj’.
Unfortunately, I had missed it and was eagerly waiting all this while to watch it at the theatres.
I did watch this film last Friday, due to a busy schedule..I am now posting my review-)
This entire story takes place in a place called McCluskieganj, which is a small hilly town in Jharkhand State,about 40 miles northwest of the capital,Ranchi.
The town used to have a significant Anglo-Indian community at one time but this has declined considerably.
Although the story is set in the late 70s with its retro setting, it does give faint glimpses of modern receptivity with subtle bold scenes and crude language.
The film has taken great care of it’s atmospherics,which is one of the reasons why you can relate to it so well.
Right from the very first frame, you are drawn into their world and their deceptively cozy holiday.
First Scene : The film begins with two men Nandu (Gulshan Devaiah) and Brian (Jim Sarbh) pondering over how to get a body into the boot of a car.
Then you are taken back a week ago, through seven distinct settings – each embodying a different emotion.
Its’ a simple story, when the son Nandu, his wife Bonnie, their daughter Tani and their introvert cousin Shutu along with Bonnie’s friend Mimi come visiting for Christmas holidays. The rest of the events of the film unfold over seven days. Nandu’s childhood friend Vikram and Brian also live in the same town, and daily come over and induldge in drunken evenings, impromptu games of kabaddi and long afternoon naps.
These friendly get-together acts a setting for hidden skeletons of these characters to come tumbling out,
Vikram is a bully and has a secret sexual affair with Mimi despite Vikram being married. In all this Shutu,who is also the family’s weak link, is left to babysit and take care of Tani.
Shutu is a total misfit who wants to be a part of the group but always finds himself the butt of stupid insensitive pranks and jokes. Nobody takes his side or gives him the time of the day.
The seven day vacation plot leads up to one death ( Still not giving out spoilers)
A Death in the Gunj reminds me of the story telling session, I used to experience many years ago, conducted by my beautiful mom every Friday night post dinner just before I went to bed. All her stories necessarily did not have a moral purpose or a deep meaning.
The same way, this film is just a story about a dysfunctional family gathering, which ends in a tragedy.
After watching the film, I really would like to read the original short story written by Mr Mukul Sharma.
These are the kind of films Indian cinema and Indian audience needs to watch. Real stories, natural acting, real set ups in real locations and top it all an interesting story line.
Shipra Ray’s cinematography very aptly showcases McCluskieganj in a haunting way and you do feel a sense of intimacy in the story and it’s characters. Thanks to the Director Konkona Sensharma
Vikrant Massey steals the show with his brilliant, powerful and top notch performance.
Ranvir Shorey was fabulous..he is just going from strength to strength.
It was a pleasure to watch Mr Om Puri and Tanuja ji in a diffrent
A Death in the Gunj is a well made film and deserves a watch 😊