A Death In The Gunj is an Indian drama thriller film written and directed by Konkona Sen Sharma.
It features Vikrant Massey, Tillotama Shome, Om Puri, Tanuja, Gulshan Devaiah, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh, and Ranvir Shorey.
I went into this movie without seeing any promotional material for the film. I read no reviews – since most of them do unintentionally give away important plot details – and went in just on recommendation.
For those who think that this film is a murder mystery will be disappointed as it is less of that and more a story about that events that lead to the death of a certain individual.
Performances and Direction
The performances in this movie are great. The cast of the film – Vikrant Massey, Gulshan Devaiah, Kalki Koechlin, Tillotama Shome, Ranvir Shorey and Tanuja – consists of great character actors who pull off their respective roles with extreme ease. Since this movie doesn’t have a plot that the audience can hold onto, the burden is on all of the characters to move the story forward. The plot develops as the relationships between all the characters become more fleshed out and for someone like me – who didn’t know what the movie was about – that was essential to get right so the audience doesn’t feel lost. Fortunately, Konkana Sen Sharma directed the hell out of this movie and every character has a very clear purpose in this movie and collectively, all these characters contribute to the – albeit somewhat unintentional but gradual – emotional degradation of one of the characters.
That’s what this movie is really about, emotional degradation. What happens when people stop seeing what is right in front of them and get caught up in their own lives so much that they become desensitised to the amount of weight their actions really hold. About how making someone feel small and weak can make them feel insignificant and lonely. It shows us how it’s a truly terrible feeling to have people who you consider to be your family, treat you in a way that makes you feel easily replaceable. Vikrant Massey conveys all these emotions by giving a subtle but exceptional performance.
Having said all that, I would be lying if I said that there weren’t a few people in audience who were audibly and hopelessly lost after the film ended. I heard a couple of audience members saying things like “But the review gave it four stars.” and “Well, that was a waste of time.” This is where it gets tricky. Not knowing anything about this movie worked out well for me but I somewhat knew what to expect.
On the other hand, going in with an idea that the movie is good may work against the film because the average audience member’s definition of the phrase ‘good film’ is quite limited. This movie will be inaccessible to quite a few people but I urge everyone to who is a fan of good cinema to watch this movie, as from a purely storytelling perspective, this is a step in the right direction.
I do strongly feel like they should make more films like this one. These days most films are pretty straightforward with the plot and the way it is told to the audience. It was great to see a character driven film instead of a plot driven one.
Films like these should be made more often so the audience can slowly evolve with them. Spoon-feeding audiences the plot and holding their to guide them through the movie will constrain Bollywood creatively and nobody wants that.
Watch the trailer here.