★★★ Directed by: Vikkramm Chandirramani Written by: Vikkramm Chandirramani Starring: Nikita Vijayvargia, Monika Panwar, Bhupendra Singh Jadawat Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Indian short film Destiny, from filmmaker Vikkramm Chandirramani, takes a potent look at modern relationships whilst contrasting it with traditional ideas of fate.
Nikita Vijayvargia plays Tanya, a young woman whom we meet at the beginning of the movie blissful with her potential new romance with Derek (Bhupendra Singh Jadawat). However, after being given the brush off by Derek, Tanya hatches a plot to seek vengeance against this man whom she believes to be using numerous dating apps and websites in order to meet women. She enlists the help of her friend Richa (Monika Panwar) and the two engage in a systematic attack on Derek using the very framework of manipulation that he uses.
A little too light on the comedy, Chandirramani’s Destiny never fully realises its potential as a sharp and witty attack on the beast that is online dating. Instead his film becomes a character study in the way in which some people react to bad people or events. Tanya’s campaign against Derek, stemming from being spurned by him, is not delivered in a way that feels justified and her actions come across as petty and meaningless. That being said, and without spoiling the end, there is a lovely balance to the story which comes to fruition in the final third that beautifully highlighted the role of chance or luck in relationships that was the strongest thread to begin with, and something which needed developing.
The tone is light and vibrant, in keeping with the atmosphere, with Kartik Katkar’s cinematography coming into its own during the middle section with the frenetic urban shoots as Tanya follows Derek around town. This made for a nice change to the opening section, which relied heavily on Tanya’s apartment. There was a really nice moment here, though, where Tanya walks into focus and answers her phone. A small shot that captured her profile well.
The dialogue in Destiny, written by Chandirramani, is intelligent and well-crafted. There is an extended sequence where Tanya and Richa discuss the role of luck in relationships that worked brilliantly. Had the tone of the film been more adventurous or dark, there could have been a really compelling idea here, albeit familiar i.e. The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Basic Instinct etc.
Vijayvargia turns in an enigmatic display as the rejected lead, swinging through the varying emotions of her character; from her jubilant beginnings to her slightly psychotic endings. Panwar is also terrific in the supporting role, in particular during the earlier sections where she plays the wind-up merchant excellently.
Overall a nicely cinematic short film with some pointed and smart commentary on love and luck, but ultimately and tragically as forgettable as swiping left.