Dec 16, 2022
Abhinav Mondal, Hrivu Basu Ray, Moutali Sarkar
Quboolis a Bengali-language Indian short film that sees protagonist Ahmar Ali meeting with an old friend, Soumya Adhikary. Soumya has become famous as a filmmaker and so Ahmar has a story to narrate to him in the hopes that he would make a film out of it. The conversation begins earnestly enough between the two men, as they share thoughts and ideas on humanity and how best to tackle the subject of the story on screen. However, this sweet story of two friends reuniting soon turns desperately sour. With an incredibly complex plot and characters excelling audience expectation, Ankit Singha’s film takes a dark direction as he handles these characters within an unexpected backdrop of humanism.
This film looks and feels as though it has fallen out of time. Colour grading used allows the environment to feel dated in a good way and although only thirty minutes in length, watching Qubool feels as though it is paying homage to the Indian cinema that came before it. Viewers feel as though they are experiencing the journey that Ahmar and Soumya are on with them and this allows the film to feel grittier and more realistic. It feels authentic and the heat and humidity of India can be felt consistently whilst watching. Likewise, the film’s cinematography is very clever as it does not give the viewer too much, but just enough information to lull them into a false sense of security. Camerawork starts steady and becomes even shakier as it jerks around with the chaos of Ahmar’s story.
Soumya’s cool demeanour and matter of fact characterisation heavily contrasts with Ahmar’s seemingly pensive personality. Their dynamic has a slow edge of mystery and intrigue that is surprisingly captivating, and Singha unpicks this deliberately on screen. Ahmar in particular is beautifully acted by Abhinav Mondal as a multi-layered man who seeks to take control of the world around him. His initially sweet demeanour becomes fascinating to watch as the film progresses, which is also a testament to the amazing work that Mondal puts into bringing the great script alive.
Qubool begins to turn deeply unsettling as it makes its mark as a complicated psychological film. The film begins with gruesome and unnerving images, but the viewer is permitted to forget what they have seen and instead are lulled into a false sense of security in trusting those on screen. By the end, the story becomes increasingly uncomfortable by which point it takes the viewer completely by surprise and it is incredibly unnerving. Ankit Singha takes this short in such a fantastic direction as he interrogates preconceptions of its characters and if sympathy should be felt for them. Whilst the film becomes a disturbing insight into psychopathy, it also gently handles issues of stigma and anxiety and personal torment which are challenging themes to balance.
Qubool is an intensely dark viewing experience as the plot twists in ways that are most unexpected. Yet at the same time, we should have known the direction it was going all along. It is a fantastic provocative film and well worth watching.