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Namdev Bhau: In Search Of Silence review – An interesting take on the noise in the city

Release Date: 31 Oct 2018 / 01hr 24min


Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

The film stars Namdev Gurav, who has been a taxi driver in Mumbai for more than 40 years.

Director Dar Gai’s Namdev Bhau: In Search Of Silence is an independent experimental film. The titular role is played by a man who has been a taxi driver for over 40 years.

The fact that Namdev Gurav plays a character very similar to his real self must have helped him in the performance. In the Q&A session after the screening of the film, director Gai said she was inspired to make the film after she met Gurav. The film has been made on a shoestring budget with a tiny crew.

The story starts in Mumbai. Namdev Bhau (Gurav) is a chauffeur to a rich businessman and is fed up with the noise around. His wife (Geetanjali Naik) quarrels with him and is always taunting him. She regularly gets into arguments with their daughter as well.

Namdev is also subjected to constant scolding by his boss who always has a slew of instructions for him. As if this weren't enough, the city, too, does not let him live in peace with all the traffic noise and the various processions on the road day after day. Namdev starts disliking Mumbai.

When he comes across a tour package to Ladakh, he grabs the opportunity, much to his wife's annoyance. He is especially excited to visit the Silent Valley as he believes he will find peace there.

However, when he lands in Ladakh, some or the other noise keeps following him. One source of noise is the young boy Aalique (Arya Dave), who imposes his company upon Namdev. Will Namdev ever find peace?

The idea of a person fed up with noise is completely relatable, not just to those living in Mumbai, but also to those living in other cities. The city stands in stark contrast to Namdev's character. One is too noisy; the other has just stopped speaking. His state of mind is explored creatively at the start of the film itself without the use of dialogues.

This approach to noise was earlier explored in Amira Bhargava’s short film Aamer, one of the seven short films in the series titled Shor Se Shuruaat. The film had a deaf boy who finally manages to get a hearing aid. However, the noise in the city compels him to disable it.

Wanted to tell a story that will touch me, bother me: Filmmaker Dar Gai at Habitat Film Festival

The film stresses the importance of calming one's mind, explaining that external noise will be inconsequential if the noise within is dealt with. As Swami Vivekananda said, “If the mind is not under control, it is no use living in a cave because the same mind will bring all disturbances there. We will find 20 devils in the cave because all the devils are in the mind. If the mind is under control, we can have the cave anywhere, wherever we are.”

Namdev Bhau has an interesting, funny start and an impactful climax. However, the portion in between feels stretched and drags on with nothing much happening. The entire film is based on conversations; therefore, it becomes vital for it to be engaging. This is where Namdev Bhau lags. The idea of Namdev suddenly deciding to travel to Ladakh and his subsequent journey with Aalique are not convincing either.

Sound plays a big role in the film. The sound design makes it clear at the beginning that sound is the antagonist. Aditya Varma’s camerawork is praiseworthy. The visuals of Ladakh are eye-catching. Andrea Guerra’s background score gels well with the scenes of Ladakh.

Even with negligible dialogues, Namdev Gurav succeeds in making the film a pleasant experience with his performance. In fact, he doesn’t speak a word in the entire first half. It is truly commendable for a non-professional actor to give such a performance with these conditions. Arya Dave brings in a lot of energy and gives a natural performance. Geetanjali Naik is hilarious as Namdev’s annoying wife.

Overall, despite the hiccups, Namdev Bhau: In Search Of Silence is worth a watch for the noise it makes.

Namdev Bhau: In Search Of Silence was screened at the 20th Mumbai Film Festival on 31 October 2018.

Related topics

MAMI Mumbai Film Festival

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