Mumbai, 27 Nov 2020 14:05 IST
Nagraj Manjule tugs at your heartstrings with his understated performance as a newly recruited postman who is weighed down by his duty.
After 163 years, India sent its last telegram on 15 July 2013. People born in the era of instant communication could not possibly fathom what it felt like to wait patiently for days to receive a letter from your loved ones. Postcards were sent on normal occasions, but when you had to deliver an urgent message, telegraphy was your best bet.
Because they bore either excellent or terrible news, receiving a telegram was an event in itself and the messages were normally opened with a sense of trepidation as people feared for the well-being of their near and dear ones. This was especially the case with those whose loved ones worked in the armed forces.
Pankaj Sonawane's Taar explores the same theme from a postman's perspective. The 19-minute film is set during the 1971 India-Pakistan war and depicts the dilemma of a newly recruited postman (Nagraj Manjule) who is feeling depressed and weighed down by his duty. After delivering a telegram to a grieving family informing them of the death of their only son, the postman keeps thinking about quitting. "I felt like a messenger of death," he tells a colleague.
The story by Sonawane is pretty simple and told at a leisurely pace. There are scenes where nothing much happens. One feels this was a deliberate choice by the director to show the character's reluctance to deliver the telegram to delay the inevitable as much as possible.
Sonawane's direction is adequate and he doesn't try too hard to show off his skills. He lets Manjule take centre stage. Manjule once again proves that he is as good an actor as he is a director. The short film required him to deliver an understated performance and he does exactly that.
Cinematographer Benjamin Burghartz's camerawork is nonintrusive. Most of the time, Manjule is observed from a distance. Only on a few occasions does the camera close in on him to elevate the emotions of the scene. Burghartz has also captured the beauty and simplicity of village life without lingering on them too much. The visuals of the village from the top of a hill are pleasing.
Although Taar never bores you, the makers could have shortened its length by two minutes, especially at the start. Despite that, Taar is a well-made short film that evokes a keen sense of nostalgia and will tug at your heartstrings.
Taar, produced by Riteish Deshmukh's Mumbai Film Company, is available for viewing on YouTube. Watch it here.
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