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Review Hindi

Barsaati review: A surreal conversation on a cold Delhi night

Release Date: 16 Nov 2018 / 13min

Cinestaan Rating

Suparna Thombare

Director Priya Naresh takes inspiration from the magical realism in Vimal Kumar Shukla's writing. 

On a wintry night in Delhi, two men sit on a street bench to smoke and begin a conversation. You instantly find out that one of them is new to the city and seeking company on a sleepless night.

The conversation veers from Delhi's cold and how barsaatis (rooms on bungalow terraces) came to be built in Delhi to the lack of safety in the capital. 

Dialogues like 'Aaj thand ki khushboo yahaan kheech layi [The fragrance of the cold compelled me to come here]' and 'mere neend ka nishcit kiya hua samay ab beet chuka hai [it's past my bedtime]' sound overly philosophical and filmi as both actors do not manage to make those lines their own. But the mystery around both characters, especially the one who invites a stranger in for tea, keeps you interested. 

The camera, which follows the two characters and captures the stillness of the night, the empty streets, the dark sky and the houses, is perhaps the most interesting character of the film.

As the characters put it, Delhi's famous barsaatis have become unsafe now and even the crowded metros dissuade you from talking to strangers, so a deep conversation between two strangers and the trust they put in each other, spending time in a barsaati in the middle of the night in a city like Delhi, feels surreal, bordering on magical realism.

The end credit mentions that director Priya Naresh's short film is inspired from Hindi writer Vinod Kumar Shukla's writing, which was a fine example of magical realism. Perhaps the trust and a heart-to-heart chat portrayed in this short film no longer feels real in today's urban environment.

Barsaati will be screened at the Urban Lens film festival in Delhi, to be held from 16–18 November 2018. 

Related topics

Urban Lens

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