Directed by Fateme Ahmadi & Asmita Shrish
Starring Arun Rai & Bir Bahadur Rai
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Within tragedy is beauty, often marred by destruction and chaos, but it's there. Short film Chandra, directed by Fateme Ahmadi and Asmita Shrish, is an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful movie set within a terrible tragedy, that contains coming-of-age naivety and discovery, juxtaposed with the wizened cynicism and overly protective nature of age.
Chandra (Arun Rai) is on a journey with his Grandfather (Bir Bahadur Rai) to the hospital, where Chandra's mother is giving birth. Their adventure is laden with obstacles, though, such as their car breaking down, a taxi driver refusing to aid them, and the fact that the city they must traverse, Kathmandu, has recently been devastated by a violent earthquake. The pair make their way across the city which is in tatters, Chandra experiencing the visual wonderment of a child being exposed to new things, whilst his Grandfather experiences the tumultuous feeling of witnessing his grandson lose his innocence, whilst desperately trying to get to the hospital.
A remarkable short film, Chandra is visually stunning. The landscape is used to full effect to depict this perilous journey whilst capturing the aforementioned beauty which seeps in from time to time. A lovely example of this is a low angle shot of Chandra and his Grandfather walking across a rickety bridge, or seeing Chandra's face as he looks out over the destroyed city of Kathmandu for the first time. These moments held a brilliant balance of pathos and touching sentiment, as well as a vibrancy when they come across some of the gorgeous landmarks, that is maintained throughout the piece.
The performances from both players are spectacular, capturing the delightful chemistry between their polar opposite places in life and yet the very natural, and human, nature of their joint vulnerability in this situation. As the movie builds towards the final third, a rising tension is experienced as we nervously anticipate whether or not the hospital has also fallen victim to the natural disaster. This is played particularly well by Bir Bahadur Rai, whose arc gets some excellent development.
There is a wonderful sound design on the film, especially the composition from Filip Sijanec, that inserts adventurousness into the pace and tone of Chandra. The music is subtle but gracefully effective in creating the wistfulness of the boy's journey into enlightenment, at the same time as injecting dramatic undertones.
Intrinsically beautiful and thematically harrowing, Chandra is impressive from start to finish. The filmmaking is masterful, the performances are excellent, and the storytelling is unravelled with skilled poise.
Watch the stunning movie trailer for Chandra below...