Directed by: #AmartyaBhattacharyya
Written by: Amartya Bhattacharyya
Runanubandha (The HE without HIM) movie review
With only a few engaging sequences in an overly long runtime that literally becomes mind-numbing the spiritual journey of Runanubandha is an artistic mess that fascinates the audience sparingly but mostly will leave them confused. Taking inspiration and tribute to the story of Lord Brahma, the creator god of Hinduism who became infatuated with his daughter Shatarupa, the narrative of the film focuses on a daughter searching for her father. Priyanka Ghosh Roy stars as the main character also named Shatarupa as her quest to learn about her father Michael Hemanta Biswas, a poet takes place in the city of Kolkata.
Director Amartya Bhattacharyya doesn’t want the film to follow any traditional sense of #filmmaking, with continuous experimentation in filming styles and editing in different visual imagery. Scenes will change colour temperature, go black and white and shift back to colour at the flip of a switch, in fact, certain scenes just go back and forth constantly. These techniques break away from the dull narrative and connect into the theme that the director is in charge of the world the audiences see, just like the god Brahma. Early on in the story, Shatarupa meets a film director with a similar voice to her father, the audience never sees this character only hears him and views him through his point of view. The director who is voiced by Bhattacharyya casts Shatarupa in his film and soon Runanubandha begins to get even more surreal, as Ghosh Roy portrays another character within the director’s film and then cutting back and forth between the reality of the fictional film and the actual film.
Runanubandha doesn’t spoon-feed the audience the meaning of itself but doesn’t do enough to captivate those watching to want to find out the truth to its messaging. It's difficult to interpret what Bhattacharyya’s goal for the film is as so much time is spent focusing on different avenues of storytelling that at times watching the film can feel like an alienating fever dream. The film captures the vibrant culture of Kolkata especially well however, with short vignettes of busy markets and street performers used between narrative scenes. The documentary style of filmmaking is very intimate, the audience can feel the love and appreciation towards the city and these moments are far more interesting than most of the story of the film.
The actual story of Runanubandha has its moments, the term Runanubandha refers to body memory, which are memories that connect children with their parents. Shatarupa journey to find her father has her encounter several different characters but the reality of the film keeps shifting it is hard to find any real emotional resonance. The scene with Sanjita Mukherjee’s Lolita being a notable standout because Bhattacharyya allows the story and performance to be the focus rather than his plethora of editing and filming techniques. Other characters appear with over the top mannerisms which makes them memorable but again breaks the immersion of whatever reality Bhattacharyya is trying to establish with his film.
Runanubandha (The HE without HIM) isn’t a boring film but it is an exhausting one, it just feels like a bombardment of images and music with no discernible path to find its meaning. In the brief sequences where it can make sense, it is fascinating how Bhattacharyya seemingly breaks the fourth wall with his characters and wants the spiritual journey of the film to transcend traditional storytelling. The issue is Bhattacharyya just seems to be throwing every idea at the wall with no discernible artistic reasoning beyond just making the film different, leaving the audience alienated by his intentions.