Into a baby’s thoughts

Dipankar Sarkar

Akshay Indikar’s sophomore work Sthalpuran (Chronicle of Space, 2020) is about the inner struggle that eight-year-old bespectacled boy Dighu faces when he has to relocate from Pune to a coastal village in Konkan with his mother and elder sister and stay at his grandparents’ house. How Dighu copes with his new life, especially in the lingering absence of his father, forms the bedrock on which the foundation of the film rests. The young Dighu religiously jots down his thoughts in a diary, comparing his life in the village with the one he had in Pune. Creatively designed title cards, which appear at irregular intervals of the narrative, illustrate these pages. Sthalpuran, which recently won the Young Cinema Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, was selected for the Generation K-plus category at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

Without adhering to the run-of-the-mill linear plot or character arc, the filmmaker evokes the atmosphere and feel of the surroundings to narrate the story. Captivating visuals of natural environment provide an emotional perspective to the protagonist’s mental journey. Throughout its 85 minutes, the film creates a poetic universe experienced through a unique storytelling.

Akshay Indikar

In most of the scenes, Indikar, whose debut film Trijya was screened at many international film festivals, has opted to keep the camera static, allowing viewers to absorb themselves in the milieu of the film. The natural colours displayed within the sequences lend the film a glimmer of naturalism. The colours highlight Dighu’s quest to cope with his natural environment. Neel Deshmukh, a first-time actor from the Kalyan suburb of Mumbai, gives a memorable performance as young Dighu.

Jagadeesh Ravi’s able cinematography lends an aesthetic appeal to the film. The natural sounds of the sea and torrential monsoon rain have been balanced with the roaring industrial sounds of a brick factory and heavy vehicles. This drama, which has very little dialogue and much attention has been paid to mundane details, requires patience and appreciation of placidity of the natural world. The film’s unhurried pace must be allowed to grow on the viewers.

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