Oct 13, 2023
Suddhosatva Majumder, Santilal Mukherjee, Aritraa Sengupta
Dreams have the paradoxical duel power to both inspire and haunt all at once. They can be harsh reminders of the past and our previous mistakes or missed opportunities, but also they can provide hope and ideas for future greatness and happiness. As you get older the more you wish that your dreams were memories - happy memories of life’s greatest hits - yet to dream of memories is a double-edged sword. They can be a painful yet joyous reminder of times once had in our youth, but can also bring back our worst moments, when everything felt as though it was down in the gutter and the ones that change you irreversibly into the person whom you have now become.
‘The Dreamcatcher’ - an artfully composed meditation on life and the mistakes that we make - is one of those memories - the kind you wish you could go back and change because of how significantly it has altered you into the person you have become now. For Bihaan, now an older man played by Santilal Mukherjee, this memory has haunted him most of his adult life, coming back all too vividly when confronted with a former lover, Angana, played by Aritraa Sengupta. Bihaan has falls into a state of deep regret and self-loathing, referring to himself as vermin and degrading himself and humanity. It’s fitting, therefore, that he is an artist, those creatures filled with the most regrets and emotions, not least of all a painter.
Bihaan is a propaganda artist, and having completed his most recent painting of sunflowers - which recur throughout the film - he is the mood for reflection. His idea behind ‘the sunflowers’ is that the flowers are confused between the light of the sun and that of the bombs, hence why they grow so much in Ukraine and Russia, in a metaphor illustrated beautifully by his calm words over a well-drawn animation. He questions how hatred and genocide can be beautiful, before turning from the wider scope of humanity in on himself to trace his journey of becoming what he calls a vermin.
This takes him back to his younger self, played by Suddhosatva Majumder, as he recounts the day he wronged Angana. Director Ankit Santra, who also wrote the sumptuous screenplay, directs this with supreme confidence, from the beautifully lit tracking shot across a restaurant until we find ourselves at Bihaan and Angana’s table, where tensions between the couple are high. Bihaan has committed infidelity, and Angana knows, with the split screen employed by Santra further iterating the emotional divide between the lovers. Indeed, Santra directs excellently throughout, with his lighting bringing the intensity of the memory to life, particularly as Bihaan paints Angana naked for seemingly the last time. There is reason to question Bihaan’s sanity - who is he really speaking too, is it Angana or simply a figment of his imagination.
Though perhaps at times Ankit Santra gets lost himself amidst Bihaan’s questioning of the human spirit, ‘The Dreamcatcher’ is nonetheless an excellently crafted film - worthy of the immortal Franz Kafka, who’s work, particularly ‘The Metamorphosis’ was an inspiration for Santra - with its thoughtful meditations on moral corruption and human nature largely ringing true in an incredibly engaging manner. Film, like paintings or like any art for that matter, can capture dreams, and that is what Ankit Santra has done so well with ‘The Dreamcatcher’.