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Jhilli

Jhilli Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : / 5

Jhilli Movie Review : Almost too close to the bone

Ishaan Ghose’s Jhilli takes audiences deep into one of the largest dumping grounds in the country. Dhapa, located along the eastern fringes of the city, has probably never been captured on celluloid in such great detail. Ghose explores an impressive visual language, which on occasions, is hypnotic and rousing at the same time. It’s not the first film about have-nots and won’t be the last. But Jhilli aspires to be more.
It follows Bokul (Aranya Gupta), who works in a Dhapa bone factory. He learns the trash yard will soon be cleared out to make space for modern infrastructure. His struggles and that of his friends have not been narrativised as you’d expect. It’s a remorseless portrait of life but doesn’t ask for empathy, or even rage.
For the most part of the film, Ghose spotlights spaces — to make a point about inhabitancy. This turns out to be key to his approach to world-building; be it the burning corpse in the middle of a trash yard, Bokul and Ganesh’s (Bitan Biswas) trysts with their randy, older cohort Shombhu (Shombhunath De) near a garbage heap, or the scenes shot through the ‘familiar’ Kolkata streets. The visuals drive home the film’s point about gentrification. ‘Sorkar tomader ki diyeche? (What has the government given you?),’ Bokul is heard screaming in the direction of the bulldozers that seem to be clearing the dumping ground.
“So many short or feature films are literally made with blood, sweat, tears and a mountain of expectations that somewhere we lose the drill in the middle. Hence, I wanted to do something honest and truthful with my own life, to signify its intensity and originality and the only way I could do it is by making a film that would take me somewhere unknown,” Ghose had shared in a recent interview. The film succeeds in this attempt — to re-familiarise Kolkata to the audiences by shifting the gaze so uncompromisingly.
The cinematography, the sound design, the unusual camaraderie, and the obscenities that’ll draw awkward laughs, all merit a big-screen viewing. The last 10 minutes may leave you asking for a more substantial sense of ending but the clever camera work in the last few sequences delivers a degree of surrealism.

Ujjainee Roy

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