Shankha: The Art After Death is a short #documentary directed by Ratnadeep Ray and Jayashree Ghosh. The documentary was originally part of a student project and aimed to explore the religious and ritual importance of conch shells, or Shankha as their known in India. The documentary also looks at the business that conch shells provide in India, such as conch bangle and conch trumpet making.
In terms of #cinematography, although there were some nice shots, I do wish that the transitions were smoother and didn’t always jump from scene to scene so abruptly. The same goes for the music, the fades weren’t always smooth and music would cut in and out too quickly. Also, I’m pretty sure that there was a moment where I could clearly hear where the music had been looped; small details like this can be a little bit jarring for an audience member who notices it... and it was very noticeable.
Some of the music featured was quite lovely, specifically the flute instrumentals. However, a lot of the time it seemed like generic music was added just to fill the silence of scenes, which I don’t think it was necessary. Silence isn’t always a bad thing, and other things could have been used as audio, such as interviewees giving their opinions as workers or customers. Only one person was interviewed about their involvement in the conch shell trade; not interviewing additional people seems like a missed opportunity.
The subject that Ray and Ghosh chose was an interesting one because it isn’t something that I’ve seen researched before for the purpose of a film. Therefore, I had hoped that there would have been more detailed information provided to viewers, but there wasn’t much more than the bare minimum. There were great explanations of the traditional importance of Shankha, so the cultural knowledge provided was great but other aspects lacked. For example, there was a brief mention of how the conch industry is in rapid decline due to the increase of ‘modernisation and technological advancement’. A further explanation of this and even taking a look at the financial side of the conch shell business would have been interesting.
As much as I appreciated the sentiment of Shankha: The Art After Death, I think more detail was needed, especially considering that it is a documentary and it’s purpose is to educate thoroughly. With an approximate 9 minute run, time was definitely available to give viewers more facts, maybe they could have cut some of the gratuitous background music!