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Lockdown short Apple Tree is all about memories triggered by loss

Directed by Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy, the film tells the story of two brothers who have not been in touch for years.

Roushni Sarkar

Apple Tree from the Lockdown Shorts series by Windows Production features Dhrubajyoti Nandi and Anupa Thakurta in the lead. A story about memories and loss, Apple Tree is the third film in the series from the production house. Directed by Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy, the film has been written by Zinia Sen.

The short revolves around the story of two brothers, who have not been in touch for years. While in quarantine, the elder brother, referred to as Borda, starts receiving audio messages from his younger sibling. The latter shares the grief of not being able to meet him, despite having sent him air tickets to his place, somewhere outside the country. His messages don’t carry a tone of complaint, but the despair of gradually losing touch with his brother, which becomes apparent as he tries to associate himself with his memories, in the physical absence of Borda.

 Choto, full of love for his brother in his heart, tells him that he always had a chair reserved for him at the dinning table in his house. The memory of Borda getting angry with him for finishing his portion of an apple in their childhood led him to plant an apple tree in the garden of his house that is 100 years old.

The film doesn’t reveal the other side of the story. It is unknown till the end, why Borda never bothered to respond to Choto's invitations or expressed his desire to meet him once. Choto, as the name saved on Whatsapp by Borda, recalls calling him after their mother’s death to tell him that the shock led to him being hospitalised for a week but Borda does not respond. He also did not respond when Choto informed him of his marriage and shared the news of becoming a father.

Even after so many years, Borda, who now evidently lives by himself and decides to send a photo of Bougainville flowers carefully planted by Choto, changes his mind before sending the photo for unknown reasons.

The audio messages eventually get filled with emptiness, reflecting Choto's void, as if he has nothing to cling to after pouring out all his thoughts. Borda, continues to listen to the audio files without replying till the last one comes from Choto’s daughter Khuku. She informs him about her father’s death due to the COVID-19 virus a week ago. She also states that for the last few months, her father had been recording those audios.

The entire film is woven around the voiceover of Choto, with a melancholic soundtrack by Prabuddha Banerjee, who has predominantly used the sarod, to amplify the heavy mood of the film. Though the plot seems a little incomplete with a one-sided narrative, the structure of telling a story, almost through reading a letter, seems innovative.