Review Pakistani

Dry Leaves review: Contemplative film that invites empathy for the aged

Release Date: 24 Sep 2021 / 10min

Cinestaan Rating

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  • Direction:
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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Ali Sohail Jaura’s short film delves into the emotion and struggle of a recent resident in an old-age home.

Directed by Ali Sohail Jaura, Dry Leaves probes the loneliness in the lives of the aged, so often abandoned by loved ones.

The monochrome short is seen through the eyes of Zahida (Samina Ahmad), the latest resident in what is presumably an old people’s home. As she waves goodbye to her family and enters the old house, she tries to figure out the residents of her new home and wonders what her life here will be like.

Zahida trudges up the stairs, watching the other residents as they go about their routines. She finds a cheerful roommate who invites her to have a different perspective on her situation. However, unaccustomed to the ways of the residents, Zahida takes things at face value, only to realize later what their reality is.

The film concentrates on Zahida’s experience of moving in, urging us to understand her feelings and emotions while entering this new place. With sparse dialogues, the short film relies on performances and images to communicate the deep sense of loss and bewilderment that she feels. One wishes to learn more about Zahida’s predicament and inner struggle, but the film does not delve into all that.

The narrative superimposes the loss of a home through small instances that are woven in skilfully — the two women in the courtyard are playing a game and talking about one losing her home, which reflects the state of Zahida and, presumably, of the other residents. In another thoughtful instance, the iconic dialogue from Deewaar (1975) — “Mere paas Maa hai” — plays on as we reflect on the mothers abandoned by their children in their time of need.

Jaura’s thoughtful film draws us into the world of the women who are left by the wayside in their old age. The monochromatic effect heightens their loneliness and reflects the situation of these women, whose lives have been robbed of colour and happiness, vividly.

Dry Leaves is currently doing the rounds of film festivals.


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