Shruthi Bedham, a delightful short film in a smorgasbord of more crunchy films called Aviyal, is not a fantasy. Its not a genre defined short, though the characters are well defined, meaningfully their own people in some part of the City in Tamil Nadu.
Its a song. A song that is sung with the vitality of youthful love, riding on the rhythms of day and night blooming in the springtime of romantic fantasy. While the brain and heart churn tunes in mechanistic dailiness, something changes the flow and the rhythm of the song, the season of love turns according to the tonal shift in the silent ragam.
It not all The Good North Indian Moon Shining on the lover’s faces as they gaze into each other’s eyes. Equations have to be worked out, even as knowing and chilling spill into the truth of the matter. She will play the Game of Love openly, yet hide something from you. The trick is to beat the Queen before she checkmates your soul, making you believe you weren’t meant to be. And that will happen, if you do not see a femme fatale arriving on the scene, even if she is your young aunt who looks like the best bloom of the season to hit the City. You might be in luck, or so you think. She has a game of her own, and she will take your favourite wheels and ride away into the sunset with someone else. Simply because you may do anything for her after you have checked all boxes of self preservation on your list. Trying to prove you aren’t caught in the throes of love, so as to not go raging after a man whom she says she would have married had it not been him teasing her worry brains at night when her fantasy pictures have been caught in camera in reality.
In this changed world, especially down South now, the unknown past is not a cause of dramatic shock and trauma, as is wont to Indian films. Yes, he was disappointed, but accepts the woman’s otherwise termed shady, outrageous past. “She needed to do it with a man too, wouldn’t I if I were given a chance?”
The North may not make these mildly bittersweet functions visible yet in the cinematic imagination of its peoples. But Shruthi Bedham is a lesson in acceptance, a mild trance to a dance, a light hearted progressive rhythm in the country, something that could flow Northward, that might be admired for its tone n tenor; in a heartland that believes in keeping the equation in sexual liaisons balanced in traditionally defunct ways of gazing and stripping the woman only, unengaged with her chemistry and play in reality. It does so for this woman, where a suit clad traditional looking woman sets the tenor of the scenes in the film. She doesn’t need jeans to win his first admiring gaze, the promise and lure of what could be, a mixed bag of feeling and frolic on his terrace one thinks. He likes her. Period. And discovers her through her mind. She might be his young aunt, but that alluring woman could be from anywhere, anyplace, anytime, he needs to discover her fully through the first wellspring of emotion that gushes in his mind, and clouds it part puppy love, part sexual, part friend? fantasy. That she lends a tonal shift to his mauna raagam while collaborating effortlessly with him on his notes marked out for the relationship and ‘makes friendship’ in moonlight with the promise of love, only to give him back his own life makes her a mild femme fatale. The kind you would love to love to drive away with in your backseat. Any takers, Northern men?
Brilliantly plotted and sketched on video by Mohit Mehra. We need to talk more. Time has come for me to learn more from you about the gentle, soft spoken, handsome Indian man on your canvass, and in Tamil cinema. I haven’t met such a character on screen before. Wonder where I missed the boat! Since am an ‘outsider’, given the political and cultural climate of our country now and then and how it shapes all of us sometimes, I request you to please bear with my impatience to learn from your cinema as fast as possible. I’ll guess I’ll temper down when I have seen more.
Thank you for giving me your film. Its made me sit up and notice a lot more than usual, now a scenario I find commonplace when I engage with cinemas from the South.
Congratulations to your team and the producers of Avial. For those who want to watch Shruthi Bedham, kindly look up Avial, a collection of short films in Tamil released recently in theatres near you. Wikipedia could be a helpful beginning for hyperlinking to Google options.
Do leave comments, suggestions, or just ping. My Facebook id is https://www.facebook.com/nupur.jain22333. Let’s talk over chai and cinema.
And lastly, welcome to my world of writing on Southern cinema. Am travelling in reel time, drop a line if you want to watch a film.