‘Pink’ director’s new short film is never short of breath

By Subhash K. Jha, Film: Maya (Short Film); Cast: Padmapriya, Abir Chatterjee; Director: Annirudha Roy Choudhury; Rating: *** (3 stars)

Unrequited love is a terrible tragedy. In this week’s big-screen experience “Zero”, Katrina Kaif plays a woman who has been dumped by her lover. In the short film that I saw this week, a man never gets to tell a woman his true feelings.

Before he can, she confesses to falling in love with an anonymous caller who is none other than the himself. But damn. He can’t claim her affection. It belongs to his doppelganger.

Except for the fact that the Tamil heroine’s father speaks with a pronounced Bengali accent, this short-film, directed by the director of “Pink”, gets every detail right in the tragic saga of unrequited love.

The narrative tiptoes through the inert life of a young shy Bengali man Anjan (played with disarming diffidence by Abir Chatterjee) with a casual reverence. From the way his mother speaks to him off-camera we know Anjan is an over-protected emotionally skeletal man and surely a virgin.

At his piano lessons, he begins to furtively eye his Tamilian piano teacher’s attractive free-spirited daughter Maya (Padmapriya). From loaded conversations over cups of tea to blank calls from a landline (this is Kolkata in the 1990s), the texture of tenderness is never squandered away in the bustle of courtship.

Abir’s emotive layered presence suggests disturbances in his psyche that the brief film avoids. His double-identity approach to love reminded me of Shah Rukh Khan in Aditya Chopra’s “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”. Though in the end Anjan loses out on love, his defeat is not underlined by self-pity.

It’s the idea of love that keeps the lonely from sinking into the cesspool of their own solitude. As Padmapriya walks away slowly from Abir, I only hoped they would look at one another carefully rather than focus on what lies beyond.

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