Viva Sunita!- a review

This review of mine was first published in shortz, a portal for Indian short films.

What struck me most in the first view is the acting. When you see shorts you see a lot of strain of ‘expressing’ the emotion on the face and but the hands and feet of the actors often remain wooden. Fixed in the strain of emoting. But here you can see a demonstration of importance of good body language. Look at the guy who comes wearing a lunki, smoking a beedi. Or the first guy who comes to help the protagonist. Or the lady who says,”Yeh chuthiya bana rahein hai subko”.

A reason why the interactions between the different characters is good is that director gets the right tone in dialogue deliveries. The specs guy with tie when he says, “Yeh Sunita… ghar mein hain na?” or when the first guy who comes along and offers to help. Coming up with so many different patterns and tones to render individuality to characters is not that easy.

Another clever thing is the positioning of the characters. As everyone is looking up and calling someone you get all of their faces and interactions in a single angle. So here nature of content helps to overcome a common problem. One often sees this problem in soap operas where two characters talking to each other won’t look in the face but would stare at a same distant point.

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An obvious lesson for beginners from this short is that don’t overstress what you are trying to say. Things work when you slide on with the narrative rather than trying to scream ‘know this’ with the dialogue. I see a lot of shorts where a lot of head to head talking takes place. Art has no rules. But the pitfall of overdependence on dialogues for exposition is so common. Here, though there is a lot of talking, it is not about exposition of a story but about moving on with the narrative.

Regarding the visuals, there isn’t anything path breaking here. The opening shot of the upper storey with the wind playing on the leaves however does linger. And next shot of the protagonist stepping back to fall in the camera angle was also original. The visuals are neat and it aids in sailing the theme through. Enough sense is there to avoid the experimentation being jarring and it renders a deceptively simple story telling. Black and white looks good for shorts. It grabs attention. Specifically suited here also because of the night. But somehow I feel that nowadays in terms of shorts, use of black and white is becoming a little pretentious.

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The physical appearance of the protagonist somehow does not sync with the surrealistic theme. The long hair, the French beard…He looks like a fish out of water. The theme deals with the concept of continuity and it would have been more appropriate if he appeared more like ‘the people”. More ordinary so that he is almost anonymous. Easily replaced by another person. Or another voice.

Individual shots have good continuation. A good flow has been created with the visuals. For example consider the shot in the beginning when the boy gets up hearing the voice. In the same shot the sound of scooter is superimposed. So even in that intervening shot the scooter has a continuity. Another example is the outstretched hands of the ‘lunki baniyan guy’ when he calls Sunita. In the next shot, albeit from a different angle, camera rolls from the outstretched hands. These are the kind of small small details which improve the ‘make’ of a short.

It’s a professionally made short. Obviously made with good resources too. Better to learn from it rather than compare it with other shorts.

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4 thoughts on “Viva Sunita!- a review

  1. This was an excellent review. I watched the film first and then read your review.
    I think the start of the film was so perfect..what you wrote about positioning of camera is so true..I think Jim Jarmusch handles this very well in his films, especially coffee and cigarattes..one of my most favorite films.

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