In 2013, Indranil Roychowdhury made a fantastic feature debut with the Bengali coming- of-age film Phoring (Dragonfly), which centered around a small town boy’s feelings for his school teacher. Critics loved it, and a few people even saw it. Later, the film went on to develop a cult following thanks to repeat telecasts on television. It was by no means a hit and Roychowdhury hasn’t had a theatrical release to his credit since.
Roychowdhury has now made a 30-minute short film, Bhalobashar Shohor (City of Love). The protagonist has been waiting for her husband for years. He is far away in another country ravaged by war. She gets a phone call from the Ministry of External Affairs. The deafening sound of a train passing by tells us what we want to know. Later, in the dead of the night, the protagonist breaks her bangle with a light strike of a pestle. The next day begins. Hurt is muted to the point that grief feels useless.
Bhalobashar Shohor is an unsentimental depiction of a city’s population detached from the harsh realities of a much larger world. It’s an emotionally volatile story, but Roychowdhury keeps matters cold and composed. Big moments are stripped off melodrama or exposition. Instead, the sound design (by Prabuddha Banerjee, who has also scored the music) and visuals (Kolkata shot at every time of the day from practically every angle, including overhead drone shots) compensate for what the characters are not expressing in the film.