Review Hindi

Burning review: A cumbersome exploration of sisterhood

Release Date: 04 Oct 2020 / 18min

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Set on the ghats at Kashi, VS Sanoj’s short film is an exploration of religion, patriarchy and class through an unexpected conversation between two women brought together by desperate circumstances.

Two young women Prita (Ketaki Narayan) and Shakuntala (Rukshana Tabassum) find their lives intersecting through a cruel twist of fate. Belonging to different strata of society, both women are grieving the death of their sons. As the women stand on the ghats of Kashi, they discuss a deal. Shakuntala needs something from Prita, which the latter is unable to come to terms with.

As both mothers contemplate their loss, they share their experiences and realise that they have much more in common than they had previously thought. They recognise that their situations are not very different after all and if not separated by class, in another world, they may just have been friends.

Burning offers a comment on patriarchy that subjects women to latent violence. Religion too, largely controlled by men, constantly pushes women into impossible situations, demanding the performance of rituals that can be emotionally brutal but, strangely, also offer a semblance of solace. Shot at the ghats, the short film by VS Sanoj reflects upon the importance of the rituals that accompany death and what happens when one is denied the last rites of a loved one. 

Sanoj explores the shared sisterhood of the two protagonists, which forms the crux of the film. However, the performances are underwhelming and the predicament of the women seems forced in places. The music is choppy and the cinematography, intended to function as a comment, becomes unwieldy.

Burning has travelled to more than 40 film festivals across the world and was included in the Indian Panorama selection at the International Film Festival of India, 2018. It was recently screened as part of the Indus Valley International Film Festival, which was held from 2-9 October in a digital format.


Related topics

Indus Valley International Film Festival

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