Review English

Cinestaan Curates: Awake offers a rumination on the death of relationships

Release Date: 29 May 2020 / 39min

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

The short film by Atul Mongia is currently available for viewing as part of the MAMI Year Round Programme Home Theatre launched amidst the lockdown.

What is the meaning of companionship and what are its various hues? Atul Mongia’s well-crafted short film Awake pushes one to question the notion of togetherness and the bond between two people, even when one person in a relationship is not quite there and the other one is overwhelmingly so.

Sameera (Ishika Mohan Motwane) is a photographer going about her work with one significant difference — her husband Vikram (Yudhishtir Urs) is in a wheelchair and comatose. Like the photographs that she captures, her life is frozen in time as she goes about the motions of everyday life and includes her husband in everything she does, putting her own life on the back burner.

We are offered glimpses of other times, of an energetic, vibrant, controlling Vikram and a Sameera who seemed to be becoming part of the wallpaper as her husband tells her she can shop and go to the spa to engage herself while he brings in the big bucks. We do not see the Sameera who could, as her friend says, “drink any man under the table”, but one whose life is melded with that of her husband so intricately that she cannot see that there is the possibility of them being pulled apart.

The film marks the assured debut of still photographer Ishika Mohan Motwane as an actress as she conveys the mindscape of the character with subtlety. There are small gestures that offer a peek into her studied, unfazed exterior — a tiny flicker conveys a passing hesitation as she contemplates the offer extended by a friend and visibly steels herself and gets her defences back up. 

In the end, Sameera opts for the comfort of the familiar as one is left wondering about the death of relationships and the ways in which we cling on to them.

Awake was dropped from the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival in 2018 but has been made available as part of the MAMI Year Round Programme Home Theatre where the film had its Asia premiere. The short film was also selected for the competition section at the New York Indian Film Festival 2019.

Click here to watch the teaser for Awake. And click here for the MAMI Year Round Programme.

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MAMI Mumbai Film Festival Cinestaan Curates

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