New Delhi, 20 Apr 2021 11:52 IST
Arnesh Ghose’s short film is tedious in its exploration of the relationship between our physical and digital selves.
It’s an idea that has gripped the imagination of several filmmakers reflecting on our digital age: what happens to us when we die? In a technologically charged world, our digital selves continue to live on long after our we exit this world. But could we be alive digitally, without a bodily form for support? This is the enquiry that is the foundation of Arnesh Ghose’s short film, Offline.
Arjun has recently passed away, leaving his young widow Manvi behind. Shaken by his death, she is distraught and reminisces about the good times that they shared together. Suddenly, she receives a message from her dead husband’s phone number. Initially dismissing it as a distasteful prank, she eventually realises that her husband is somehow alive in and through the phone. Perplexed but also excited by the prospect of having her husband by her side in some form, she decides to go about her normal life. However, the husband’s presence slowly takes over her life.
Offline is almost like a cautionary tale about how our lives are laid bare in the digital space and the film tries to push this idea further. Although Ghose’s premise is an interesting one, the execution makes it fall flat on its face. The film aims for a certain eeriness with the husband communicating through the phone but it ends up becoming predictable and annoying.
Although there is considerable time spent in trying to establish the chemistry between the couple, the connection seems more sexual than emotional, which then makes the wife’s final step seem unconvincing and forced. Part of the blame lies in the stilted dialogues and performance of the actors who mumble their dialogues. The film is described on YouTube as being “An English Romantic thriller” but sadly, there is nothing romantic or thrilling about it.
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