The Tale of a Santa and his moth
It has been 1.5 years since Popcorn Reviewss was launched. And we have constantly tried to do things differently – be it the basic reviews or blogs or podcasts or even Celebrity Interviews. And now we have got another opportunity to get a preview of an Indian film which will be premiering at The Cannes Film Festival. It was very gracious of Aneek Chadhuri the director of The Tale Of A Santa And His Moth to give us an opportunity. Please note that THIS IS NOT A PAID REVIEW. There was no compulsion/pressure from the makers or the cast to provide a positive feedback. This is an honest review based on how I interpreted the film and whether The Tale Of A Santa And His Moth would be worth your time or not once it makes its way to an OTT platform. So here are my two cents on the film.
Story & Screenplay
The Tale Of A Santa And His Moth is an abstract story of a bisexual father and his ailing daughter who are struggling to make ends meet. Yet they wish to celebrate Christmas in the best manner possible. The story in many ways is experimental in nature and relies on the interpretation of the audience rather than spoon feeding it. The screenplay in many ways compliments the story. It begins with an image of a girl picking belongings covered with grass. The vibe here is peaceful yet you are curious as to who the girl is and what is she looking for. The caption prior to the scene is indicative of the fact that the drama is unfolding against the backdrop of a war.
Soon, the setting changes and you are introduced to the father and daughter duo. You get an inkling about the sexuality of the father and you are also told about the daughter who is ailing. They struggle to make ends meet yet a simple demand to Santa on Christmas eve is all that drives the plot further. You are embraced in their little melancholic world where you do feel their pain throughout. Although it isn’t defined but the background of the war is quite evident in this setting as well. The father is personified as a Santa who wishes to go to any extent for his daughter who could be interpreted as Rudolph. For those who are unaware, Rudolph was Santa’s reindeer with a shiny nose, which set it different from the other reindeers. So accepting the unique quality of every child is what was showcased here.
The twist in the tale is slightly on the darker side which quickly culminates into a bit of a tragedy. But the setting changes again and it is here that the screenplay becomes philosophical as well as experimental with a French word depicting a new chapter. From what I could interpret, it touched upon the concepts of after life(taking you back to the first scene) and later again being reborn yet very little of the setting(read : war) actually changes during the period. The complexity in the screenplay is what drew me to the film everytime. Its experimental nature almost opened a dozen possibilities which made my mind wander like I was reading a book. The screenplay is most definitely niche but a brilliant piece of writing.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are hardly there as the makers rely on the silence yo put across their point. This for me allows the user to sink into the film at a subconscious level as opposed to a superficial one. The music is the unsung hero of the film. From the symphonies of the violin which range from being melancholic to upbeat, to the strings of the guitar which make your mood swing, the music and BGM deserve a playlist of their own. This is one of the most satisfying and brilliant pieces that I have heard in recent times. The cinematography is filled with stillness that almost makes you uncomfortable at times yet the quality of absorbing the atmospherics is just perfect. Director Aneek Chaudhuri does a phenomenal job here almost making an audience a co-director and allowing them to interpret the drama according to their own sensibilities. His ability to say a lot of things during quieter moments is really evident here and it is his genius which kicks in while switching genres and settings during the course of the film.
The performances are quite brilliant. It isn’t easy for an actor to act with almost no lines to play with. And this is where Usha Banerjee shines as the ailing daughter. There is pain and regret written all over her face so much so that she absorbs you into her character as well. Pawan Chopra as Pedo has such a sensitive role along with a melancholic note and he does a brilliant job himself. The helplessness of a father is well represented here although I would have liked his sexuality touched upon slightly more. That aspect of his character remained underwritten. But overall, a great job done.
The Tale Of A Santa And His Moth is niche, experimental and open to interpretation which is why it is such a poignant and a satisfying watch. Soon to be premiering at The Cannes Film Festival and Highly Recommended from my end.