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55 KM/Sec review: Arati Kadav’s short film walks us through the apocalypse

Release Date: 07 Mar 2021

Cinestaan Rating

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Sonal Pandya

The sci-fi short film explores the intriguing concept of humanity’s last day on Earth due to an imminent asteroid collision.

What would you do on your last day on Earth? Arati Kadav’s short 55 KM/Sec follows a young man named Suraj (Mrinal Dutt) who is grappling with his mortality, and unfulfilled desires, as his time on Earth comes to an end thanks to an asteroid named Celestine.

Set in an alternate timeline, 55 KM/Sec’s hero lives a minimalist, monk-like existence, lacking most possessions except for modern gadgets, of course. This solitary figure meets a few people on the day the Earth is due to meet a catastrophic end. Suraj’s neighbourhood pointedly features graffiti that states, ‘We deserved this’.

Most of humanity has resigned itself to its fate. World leaders and the rich have escaped to space stations, while others, a mostly younger population, take shelter in underground bunkers. However, not everyone is lucky in the lottery for a second chance.

Suraj connects with his father via a phone call and, later, a group of school friends on a video chat. He reunites with an old school crush Srishti (Richa Chadha) and, with time running out, he blurts out a declaration of love. However, a miscalculation leads to a slight reprieve, allowing Suraj to make that one last human connection he thought he had forgone.

Kadav’s sci-fi short contains several parallels to our world, which is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. The short film, which was shot and made remotely during the lockdown, can hardly avoid it.

But while the filmmaker highlights inequalities in society and among the characters, there is so much more it could have explored. But despite its restrictions, it is a worthy attempt.

Dutt, in a largely silent part, doesn’t connect fully until the last few moments of the short, which is too late. Chadha has a brief but impactful part as the understanding Srishti. As in her previous film Cargo (2020), a conversation brings closure to the main character.

The visual effects are subtle and needed to be more impactful (pardon the pun). The world that Suraj and Srishti inhabit is hinted at, but again it is not given importance and the former college mates reunion leaves us feeling that much more melancholic.

However, not many Indian filmmakers even try to experiment with the possibilities of sci-fi, and Kadav has created the beginning of something quite intriguing, even as it delves into a bleak future that we could be staring at someday.

55 KM/Sec is being streamed on Disney+ Hotstar and ShortFilmWindow in India. The film was earlier released internationally on Amazon Prime Video US and UK.

Related topics

Disney+ Hotstar Amazon Prime Video ShortFilmWindow

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