The best thing I can think of saying about the absolutely enchanting trailer of Ritesh Batra’s second feature film The Sense Of An Ending is that it doesn’t look like a film by an Indian director.
Which is not to say that an international film by an Indian director must not contain Indian elements. It’s just that the tonal resplendence of the narration as captured in the trailer left me deeply moved, and grateful.
Thank God, Ritesh has not let us down after the internationally lauded The Lunchbox.That was a very Indian film about a housewife’s loneliness sublimated by her passion for cooking.The dabbawala culture of Mumbai played a huge hand in the narrative.When The Lunchbox went on to become the most successful Indian import in the cinema since Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali and Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay we were all pleasantly surprised.And somewhere grateful to see someone other than Anurag Kashyap taking India to the West.
There is only one Indian character in the character-driven trailer of The Sense Of An Ending, a courier deliver boy who brings the letter that changes the protagonist’s life.The way in which the extremely accomplished Jim Broadbent slams the door on the Indian courier boy’s face is in a way a firm embrace of a world that is as far removed from The Lunchbox as Mumbai is from London.
The trailer of The Sense Of An Ending, I am happy to say, shows a master storyteller in full control of his characters’ destiny. The Julian Barnes’ novel on which this undoubtedly accomplished film is based is about dark secret that spill out willy-nilly when we think they are buried and gone, and how we subvert and deflect reality with the passage of time to suit our own scheme of existence.
This is not an easy story to film. Batra with his penchant for concretizing dark emotions seems to have pulled off the telling of Barnes’ complex and layered novel with a surprising lightness of touch. What I saw beneath the questionings and counter-questionings of characters who lie to one another and to themselves in their endeavour to fight off the truth for as long as they can, was a great deal of sunshine and joy.
Barnes’ novel is purposely bleak. Ritesh Batra’s film version seems to have taken the other recourse. It pursues lives long lost in the labyrinth of lies with a twinkle-eyed obstinacy.The narrative moves back and forth with feral fluency in two time zones. The remarkable cast comprising some of Britain’s most accomplished actors seems to talk to us in words that do not strain for effect.
The film also LOOKS terrific. But that’s really not the point here.Batra beautifies Barnes not only through the lens of the camera but by penetrating and tickling the very essence of the novel’s characters. If this is not how Barnes imagined some of his characters, then this is how they ought to have been.
This is a master at work . And Indian master.A Shekhar Kapur from another era , if you will.
Ritesh Batra says about The Sense Of An Ending: “If you’ve read the novel it’s actually very slight in length. There were lots of unspoken feelings and emotions between the lines which we had to dig out . We had to amplify the emotions. It was an amazing experience to work on the development of the script.”
Watching the trailer I know exactly what he meant.
Trailer Rating: ****(4 stars)