Directed by: Debanjan Majhi
Written by: Debanjan Majhi, Arijit Chattopadhyay
Starring: Girish M. Patel, Shiv B. Rawal
The ability to hear is remarkable. Sounds can be pleasant or unpleasant, but ultimately they provide extraordinary ways to experience life.
Debanjan Majhi's short film A Silent Warble focuses on an elderly blind man (Patel) in an Indian city. The man travels around the city by foot or by bus, carrying with him a sound recorder, which he constantly uses to record the sounds around him. He sits in a crowded restaurant by himself and a boy (Rawal) then sits at his table with him. The two appear to know each other and proceed to go on a journey around town, while the man is catching all the sounds on his device, paying particular attention on the ones he finds most interesting or appealing.
As the film's sound designer, Majhi has created a film that relies heavily on sound as well as image in order to communicate with the viewer. There is no dialogue, apart from the voices of distant chatting and the man and the boy never utter a word. But this is by no means a silent film. On the contrary it is filled with noises of all sorts, some of which are more powerful and enhanced than others. For instance, as the man walks through the streets, there is the sound of traffic that is so dynamic, it is nearly chaotic. And when he is sitting in the restaurant, among the sound of customers talking, the sounds of coins flipping and food frying become louder, indicating that the man finds these sounds more captivating. This technique is used in other parts of the story. The film, in a way, appears to be experiencing the world through the blind man. He is unable to see and therefore his hearing plays a big role regarding how he views his surroundings.
Majhi was also the editor of this project and he did a great job. The editing is very effective, however particular recognition should be given to the film's most beautiful scene. The man has returned to his house, where he has several large surround sound speakers. He connects his recorder to the speakers and is thus able to hear the sounds he recorded in all their glory. As he sits on a chair listening, the shot of him in the room slowly dissolves into a forest, giving the impression that these sounds make him feel the blissfulness of nature. The brilliant editing and direction makes this a wonderful sequence and truly stands out.
In addition to a well-structured screenplay and convincing performance by Patel, the audience will also be treated to the calming and mesmerising music that accompanies the images.
Majhi has clearly put a great deal of effort and passion into this project and the result deserves a lot of praise and attention.