LIFF 2019 Movie Review: ‘Widow Of Silence’

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On the 10th anniversary of the London Indian Film Festival, supported by Bagri Foundation, ‘Widow Of Silence’ (2018) is one of many great selections of short films on offer to see. Written, directed and produced by Praveen Morchhale, only his third film, it was first premiered at the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival after debuting at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival.

Set in the backdrop of the beautiful valleys of Kashmir, a country caught up in conflict, ‘Widow Of Silence’ is the story of a nurse, Aasia (Shilpi Marwaha), who has been searching for answers on the disappearance of her missing husband for the past seven years. He was taken away by security forces and hasn’t been seen since. Not knowing if her husband is dead or alive, she is known as a ‘half-widow’, a term given to many of the women like Aasia who live a similar life.

As a single mother, raising her 11-year old daughter Inaya and caring for her elderly mother-in-law has its own challenges, however Aasia continues her day without any complaints. The constant conflict between her heart and head is quite a battle, Aasia finds it difficult to decide if she should move on with her life or remain in hope that one day her husband will return. As she is unable to do either, Aasia tries to obtaining a death certificate from the government, so that she can find closure, pay off debt and give her daughter a better life, but instead is forced to deal with an opportunistic, corrupt government official (Ajay Chourey) who preys on her vulnerability.

As the film goes on, Aasia continues to get entangled by the frustration, agony and loneliness, that only she knows and feels. As a viewer you hope that she finds peace of mind and can have a happily ever after, but life throws another curve ball and by no fault of her own, is left making a life-changing decision.

Marwah’s performance was faultless. She manages to carry the film just through her subtle expressions, which was in-keeping of the way the film was told. Bilal Ahmed plays a small but big part in the film, as a simple guy who runs a taxi service between the villages in Kashmir, he maintains a positive outlook on life through poetry as he goes about his day job. His character brings some light relief in small pockets and leaves you contemplating over his words.

Morchhale has a unique gift for film making. He has taken, as what can only be described as a ‘minimalistic’ approach in storytelling, with very little dialogue, and somehow it works. You forget the ‘quietness’ and become engrossed in the film as the story develops. Morchhale captures the emotions perfectly without any fuss and over the top drama or background music. But what was interesting was the cliffhanger at the end of the film, really unexpected, that you forget the films run-time is only 85 minutes. So the question is, will there be a sequel or will Aasia’s story remain unfinished?

 

***The Bagri Foundation London Film Festival celebrates a decade in bringing the best new South Asian films to the UK, with 5 cities, 25 venues and 25 specially curated films. It starts on 20th June 2019 in London continues until 8th July 2019, at cinemas across the UK. For more on the festival, please visit: http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/***

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