It Closes In On You, This Maze…
This is not your regular Bollywood offering. It is a claustrophobic tale of a man caught inside a warren of small, dark narrow alleys, where you can barely see the sky, and although he wants to escape, he is caught by the overhead wires. It is also the story of a young lad, abused by his father and brow beaten into accepting his fate that means no escaping from this hell hole… The film is shot beautifully and all characters are brilliantly etched in their pain. You will come away shook.
Manoj Bajpayee is Khuddoos, a man who lives in front of ancient tv screens that feed him camera footage from cameras hidden among the wires that criss cross the alleys. He is unkempt and unbathed and looks like he has not seen sunlight for years. He’s the quintessential rat that scurries about in the dark in a maze.
Khuddoos has a friend Ganeshi (played with great empathy by Ranvir Shorey) who feeds his body and soul, admonishing him at his habit of looking into others lives. Khuddoos is worried about a young boy Idu or Idriss (a brilliant act by young boy Om Singh) who is constantly being beaten by his dad Liakat, the mean kohl eyed Neeraj Kabi. Idriss hates working for his father who is a butcher, but his father says, ‘Everyone hates it in the beginning. You’ll get used to it.’ The young lad loves his pregnant mom who already has a little one. Mom Saira is played by the talented Shahana Goswami whose love offers some respite to the young lad from the incessant browbeating. Idu has a friend Ginny, and the two boys spend time peeping into people’s homes, and watching videos of movies in a seedy video parlour located in one of the alleyways.
The alleys are a major character in the film too. They seem to be endless sometimes. And at others, they seem to closing in on whoever is trying to get home. A great metaphor. Are the characters Idu and Khuddoos really wanting to get home? Are they doomed to be lost in the labyrinth forever? Will Khuddoos save the boy?
Cinematography by Kai Miendendorp is at once rich in details and then dark and broody at the same time. At a point you are overwhelmed by the alleys closing in on you, and wish they had not been so relentless in showing us what it is to live in such burrows… But what an experience.
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)