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Kalira Atita Nila Madhab Panda’s Dirge On Desolation

Kalira Atita(Odiya, Available On Mubi)

Director
Nila Madhab Panda
Writers
Nila Madhab Panda
Cast
Pitobash Tripathy
Plot
A man returns to his home village hoping to reunite with his family, only to find it under water due to a cyclone. Now, another cyclone is coming, and the man struggles to survive.
Rating: ***

It is  heartening to see the languishing  actor Pitobash Tripathy get a  whole film to himself. Odiya director Nila Madab Panda’s first film in his native tongue, has Pitobash bleeding an  indescribable  pain into every frame.

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 Tripathy plays  a  psychologically  disturbed man Gunu whose entire family has been swept away by  a cyclone into the sea.

It’s no surprise  that this  homeless wanderer has lost  his  mind and  that he  talks about his  drowned family  as if  they were  still alive. He  sees them in front of   his eyes. Gunu goes back to the village that was swallowed by the sea, much like his own joys as a   householder and  family man.

His guilt as a man who  couldn’t take care of his family is  so tangible  it becomes a character  of its own. Like  the guilt in Shakespeare’s  Macbeth. We feel  its presence  non-stop. It bleeds  into  the very  fabric of the narration defining Gunu’s every  gesture. very move , every breath…

True, in the quest  for the truth about the nullity of  existence , this  vividly mapped  race  of the human heart, loses its way into repetitive scenes of  Gunu  searching  for  a family and a home that no longer exists. Instead  of romanticizing Gunu’s predicament  writer-direor Nila Madab Panda, opens  up the wounds of past transgressions to show how they colour the  present.

The  vivid film is  shot by  cinematographer  Nagaraj Diwaka mostly in  pale faded shades denoting a climatic upheaval.The  shots  of the  heaving lurching ocean  as  weighed against  the triviality  of  human life  lend a  feeling of looming cataclysm to the fable-like story of a man so far  gone he seeks his  family back  from  the ocean which has claimed them.

Cannily   the  director uses unknown  actors  of  the region who  don’t look like actors at all. Pitobash who is  an accomplished actor,  blends into the bleached   colours  of  catastrophe . He is no longer an actor playing man drowning in grief.He is  that man Gunu whose adventures in the evacuated village border  of  ludicrous.Such is life. Abject tragedy is never too far from  the  comedy of the  grotesque.

That  the  film was shot  in an actual seaside village confers   the proceedings with a palpable immediacy. The  narrative moves  back and forth in time creating  a sense of ongoing foreboding. Ruination seems just around the next corner. Kalira Atita  could have  done with a  lighter tone of  naratation. But then, when you are somebody who  has lost everything, what’s there to laugh about?

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