31 Mar 2022
Mohan Singh Gaharwar
Mohan Singh Gaharwar
Chirag Mandawaria, Priyesh Shrimal, Mukul Joshi
When Akira Kurosawa wrote and directed one of his many masterpieces ‘Rashomon’, I doubt even he, the visionary director that he was, could have predicted the endless swarm of adaptations and interpretations which it was spawned. Films which feature the ‘Rashomon effect’, are numerous, with the likes of ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Usual Suspects’ most notable. Just last year Ridley Scott’s ‘The Last Duel’ used the ‘Rashomon effect’ to great praise from critics. This adaptation of the Kurosawa’s historic tale has the same name but lacks any of the class which made the original great.
Whilst the original told the tale of the rape of a bride and the murder of her samurai husband from the perspectives of a bandit, the bride, the samurai’s ghost and a woodcutter; this iteration, which was written and directed Mohan Singh Gaharwar, shows the many sides to the story of the death of two friends in the same apartment. Just how many sides to the story is unclear - the story is told in nine parts which would suggest nine different perspectives, but instead much of the story is blurred, with most of the ideas coming from the four police officers trying to solve the murders. This doesn’t really fit with the overall gist of the Rashomon effect, which aims to show that two or more people can view the same event quite differently. This is just the same event viewed in the same way by a select few people from the same background. Even then, a firm point would be expected, however, instead there’s just a blank vagueness to the story.
This vagueness sums up the general mood of the film, as no information is really absorbed because it’s all coming so thick and fast. That’s the problem when you try to fit a ninety minute film into forty-five, too much important information is given at such a velocity that none of it gets any time to settle and digest. This isn’t exactly helped by the very thin lines between the views of all the police officers, who each seem to share similar beliefs aside from one grossly misogynistic member of the quadrant that believe that all girls are evil, and thus blames Rudra’s (who was murdered) ex-girlfriend Suhara for the deaths. This is despite the fact that in another fittingly vague scene, Rudra is violently assaulting, and possibly even raping, the poor woman. As with many other scenes in the film, this scene does not sit right - its already been established in many other parts that Suhara was not to blame, so what is the purpose of this abhorrent scene.
Quite frankly, there’s too many different parts, all with equally long names and similar ambiguous storytelling. It all becomes a bit of a soulless mist after the first couple of parts, as the realisation that there’s still plenty to come begins to set in. This is amplified by the transitions between the parts, with what appears to be powerpoint slide shows popping up to inform us of the title of the part and reveal a hidden message.
Its not all bad, however, with some surprisingly charismatic performances from Chirag Mandawaria as Rudra, Priyesh Shrimal as Senior and Mukul Joshi as Aryan. They all inhibit the characters their performing and help to add a level of quality to the film. The cinematography is also fairly good from Shashank Vishwakarma, who creates a good understanding of the setting. Furthermore, Gaharwar’s direction shines in moments, particularly when depicting drug use, but then is undone by his own frantic editing. The continuously jumpy and fast-paced editing is jarring, and makes the film even more tiresome and only amplifies its greyness.
In moments it shows signs of life, but this version of ‘Rashomon’ is not one that Akira Kurosawa would be proud of. The film lacks any punch, with a score just as bland as the story its trying to tell. The mindless exposition dump combined with some frustrating editing choices makes ‘Rashomon’ a dramatic misfire, from all perspectives