Mother (A Story of Perception and Persona) - Short Film Review

★★★

Directed by: #Mohan Singh Gaharwar

Written by: #Mohan Singh Gaharwar

Starring: #Chirag Mandawaria #Reshmi Rajoriya #Ratan Singh #Deepak Jayalwal


Film Review by: Joshua Calladine



There is a lot to be said about the continuing power of surrealism in cinema. Filmmakers famous and obscure are still drawn to it. Directed and written by Mohan Singh Gawahar, Mother (A Story of Perception and Persona) comes close to saying something about this attraction, and in doing so, succeeds in being truly bizarre. There are moments of the inexplicable and moments of the plain weird. And overall the effect is somewhere between comedic and disturbing.


Part of the reason for this effect is the slightly amateurish quality of the film as a whole. Not that this is a huge detractor. But many of the seams are showing throughout the roughly ten-minute run-time, the only notably annoying one being the problems with sound-design. The shift from non-diegetic soundtrack to dialogue has a sudden fall in volume. A surreal effect, but not necessarily a desirable one.


The performances, however, are so strangely sincere to make up for this jarring fault. Although the dialogue is not exactly groundbreaking, the delivery is so straight-faced that the effect is like listening to a joke where the punchline never comes. The only response can be nervous and confused laughter. It is not clear if this is always the directorial intent, but the result is entertaining and enjoyable.


Chirag Mandiwaria and Reshmi Rajoriya as the young couple meeting for a first date are oddly watchable, mainly for their difficult-to-place on-screen chemistry and sometimes humorously flat delivery. When the protagonist's mother (played by Ratan Singh) is introduced later in the film, the effect is similar. She only speaks through hand gestures, and in a move of dream-logic, reveals a woman tied up at the dinner-table, gagged and mock-force-fed with bread.


In most scenes the framing is formulaic and even rigid (an admittedly surreal quality, but probably not by design). The writer-director's idea is clear, but the film may have benefited from another eye for cinematography, and at the very least, an independent audio-editor.


Overall, the film moves through territory that is fairly predictable, not breaking too much new ground in the world of the surreal. Repeated scenes, slow-motion edits, seemingly random actions, portrayals of emotional personas, all make an appearance. But what marks it out as something interesting is its peculiar charm, a charm granted by the very amateurism that underpins the film. It feels largely sincere.