Sharan Venugopal’s "Oru Paathiraa Swapnam Pole" (OPSP) makes you assume it’s about one thing—something serious—but then goes in a direction that feels like a breath of fresh air. Produced by the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, the 37-min film is based on Susmesh Chandroth’s short story Vaibhavam.
The National award-winning film, which was screened at the International Film Festival of Goa last year, centres on a family of three. The husband is Wahab (Sudhi Panoor), a politician caught up in election fever, his wife Sudha (Nadiya Moidu) and daughter Theertha (Garggi Ananthan).
Sudha has just been told by her doctor she has a lump. Whether it’s cancerous or not will be revealed later, but this isn’t the film’s primary focus. This development doesn’t make the proceedings grim, as we later learn. Sudha carries on as she always does. What makes her visibly upset is a video she found on her daughter’s laptop. She begins to behave strangely with not just Theertha but everyone else too. The intrusive questions bother the daughter.
Meanwhile, Sudha’s doctor friend reminds her that she hasn’t told her family about the mammogram. Does she have the right to know about others’ secrets when she can’t reveal her own?
The 4:3 ratio in which OPSP was shot gives the film a classical look. The frame occupies only the characters, and everything else is eliminated, except for, of course, the occasional employment of wide shots to give us a sense of where each character is in relation to the other and a sense of the space they occupy. And complementing this approach is the film’s largely pensive atmosphere punctuated sparingly by conversations. When not informing mood with a meditative score, the film opts for ambient sounds to allow the moment breathe.
After a darkly comic moment in the penultimate moment following a revelation, the film ends on an ambiguous note. One can see here a tinge of mischief because the film forbids us from a secret, as though it has suddenly assumed the attitude of the characters.
Film: Oru Paathiraa Swapnam Pole
Director: Sharan Venugopal
Cast: Nadiya Moidu, Garggi Ananthan
Streaming on: YouTube