Commendable Absurdist Independent Cinema from Orissa

Khyanikaa is all about moments, like snippets from a dream. It is set in coastal Orissa.

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The characters: Two men, a poet and an idler, in quest of the ever illusive idea. While fate acts judge and jury over their claims.  Glimpses of a skeptical society. Newspaper stories come alive and question the reader, quite literally. Boats become alternate realities and the postman a dream navigator.

The setting: There are several scenes framed through a doorway or broken window … maybe to question ownership and reality itself. A man whiles his time away reading newspapers, immune to the rants of his irate wife. A poet consoles himself with alcohol and imminent international fame. A world leader addresses an impoverished and under-developed world, hints of comments on the divide between the have and have-nots. A mad man goes about his routine of dragging a teacher on a wheelchair, asking time, making imaginary paintings on imaginary frames on a field and tall blades of grass or on the quiet water of a stream.

The film is filled with pleasing visuals. A picturesque countryside setting makes a perfect backdrop for the characters to light up the frames. The image itself is evocative. It stimulates one to weave their own interpretation as we see metaphors build in sometimes visual sometimes aural manifestations.

The narrative is punctuated by equal doses of satire, humor, pathos and striking colors achieved through devices like dance, silhouettes, shadows, reflections, and exaggerated/theatrical acts. This along with the disjointed (on purpose) plot-line establishes the absurdist tone of the film.

Apart from challenging the medium through these experimental devices, I also admired the poetic leanings of the film. Not very nuanced poetry but one that comes to the fore after a drink or two, but it still entertains and falls within the larger objectives here.

What works the most for me is the visual storytelling aspect, though the music at times seems misplaced. The dialogue is also well written and performed by the cast. I particularly like the mad man who brings a lighter tone to the film. The interactions  between characters also follow a pattern, inducing a sense of contrast- between the wealthy and the impoverished, famous and obscure, ecstatic and indifferent. At times the format helps you to plug-in to these sequences and absorb them more without caring about their relevance in the larger plot. I specifically enjoyed the satirist take on the elitist connections between so-called higher society/journalism/Page 3 lifestyle and obsession with fake British associations in literature and conduct.

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Wild grass, endless stretches of rice fields, a lady dancing amidst this beautiful landscape, a surprising idea as any.
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Such a quintessential Orissa image!

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Another frame that looks like a painting.

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Art inspired from Khyanikaa
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