Atul Mongia’s Short Film Awake Is A Wonderfully Twisted Portrait Of A Happy Marriage

Director: Atul Mongia
Forged: Ishika Mohan Motwane, Yudhishtir Urs, Nicholas Brown, Suhaas Ahuja
DOP: Siddharth Diwan
Editor: Shimit Amin
Streaming on: ShortFilmWindow 

At first, you’re feeling sorry for Sameera. She appears like an unsettling romantic tragedy. Her husband Vikram is alive however comatose. And he isn’t in a hospital. Sameera has chosen to dwell and co-exist with him of their condominium, as if they had been simply one other married couple in barely uncommon circumstances. He’s greater than only a limp physique to her. Assume Lars and the Actual Woman, however with a vegetative human as a substitute of a intercourse doll. It’s creepy however unhappy. Sameera nonchalantly goes about her routine – work, health club, driving, brushing, cleansing, sleeping subsequent to him – and celebrates their wedding ceremony anniversary with a chocolate cake. She even wheels him to a restaurant in a crisp new shirt for dinner with pals. The probabilities are heartbreaking. Perhaps she’s in denial, perhaps she refuses to let go, perhaps she desires to carry onto no matter is left of him. Perhaps her love is transcendent. 

Or perhaps…she likes the silence. The company. The management. Perhaps it’s triumphant and poisonous. There’s a flashback halfway by Atul Mongia’s Awake that means how the movie isn’t what we predict – hope – it’s. Sameera appears at Vikram’s serene face and reminisces in regards to the previous. Recollections flood by her head. A houseparty. A high-on-life Vikram pulls Sameera onto the dance ground. Up till this level, it’s a poignant love story. She most likely misses his vitality and spirit. However then the tone of the scene modifications. Most movies finish the flashback right here and return to the current. However this one continues – Sameera is loading beers into the fridge and watching Vikram go wild. Her smile disappears. She feels lonely within the crowd. This isn’t her life, it’s his; she’s only a passenger. The love story is in actual fact a wedding story. It’s not joyful or unhappy, black or white; it’s difficult. Sameera lacks an identification. 

None of that is spelt out, as a result of Ishika Mohan Motwane’s face has an emotional intelligence that reveals the unsaid. The refined change – from the socially disabled romance of Lars and the Actual Woman to the psychological morbidity of Phantom Thread – is seen in a break up second. The sluggish silence of the scene morphs right into a ticking clock. At this level, it’s not unnatural to marvel the worst: did introvert Sameera do one thing to extrovert Vikram? Is he maybe brain-dead due to her? Fortunately, the movie refuses to pursue this cinematic line of thought; there are not any hints of psychopathic (and by extension, lazy) profiling. The counterargument – grieving Sameera simply made lemonade out of nasty lemons – is way extra compelling. 

Awake is a perceptively carried out and cleverly conceived movie. It subverts the dysfunctional marriage trope by blurring the road between twisted and empathetic. On the identical time, it additionally humanizes the useful marriage trope by pushing – after which inverting – the idea of sacrifice. Audiences are conditioned to view a personality like Sameera’s as “loopy” – the type that pals take a look at sympathetically and talk about in hushed tones. Her determination to maintain her comatose husband at house is, at finest, irrational and unfeasible. However the two flashbacks of the movie – one that includes the occasion and the second that includes a chat within the automobile – flip her determination into extra of a unusual coming-of-age machine. It’s virtually feminist in a way, which in itself is a terrific nod to the style. We be taught of the husband-wife equation in each scenes, visually and verbally, and start to know the ‘reasoning’ behind Sameera’s psyche. 

Most movies might need erred on the facet of darkness, however Awake may be very attuned to the persona of its protagonist. For example, there’s one other scene in the direction of the top during which Sameera’s ‘independence’ is pushed residence. It’s late at night time, and Sameera is attractive. It’s a conventionally graphic second – the type that instantly triggers a pointy string-heavy rating to label its wickedness. Normally the music urges the viewer to guage the instability of the character. However the movie’s first signal of a background rating emerges with the digicam fixated on her face – and it’s the nice and cozy pluck of a guitar. It forces us to have a look at the second from a totally completely different perspective, with a totally new set of adjectives: slice-of-life, playful, mundane, private, and woke up. At first, you might really feel sorry for Sameera. However then you definately really feel joyful – even relieved – for her. 

One other trope that Awake subverts is the morality-revenge trope. Not all marriages should be abusive – and never all husbands villains – for the spouse to ‘earn’ an escape route. Vikram is in no way a monster, and Sameera, not less than on the floor, has no apparent issues. However that doesn’t imply she is glad. A union is the consequence of compatibility relatively than ethicality. 

The 23-minute quick opens with Sameera in her workspace. Very similar to the artist enjoying her – Ishika Mohan Motwane is a well known nonetheless photographer – Sameera can be a photographer. She is capturing a portrait of a newly married couple. She frames them, lights them, directs them all the way down to the littlest element. She makes small speak with the spouse. In essence, Sameera’s job is to make relationships look good. It’s to let companions convey a sure picture of themselves to the surface world. In a manner, the job displays Sameera’s framing of her personal marriage – she has the ability to direct, mild and management the snapshot of her love. It’s her stage to make. The one distinction is that Sameera’s ‘association’ is designed to convey a sure picture to herself relatively than the surface world. It’s to make her look – and really feel – good. The world thinks she is an unimaginable and galvanizing lover. However the paradox is poetic: By being dedicated to the idol of her husband, the spouse is definitely worshipping herself. 

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