REVELATIONS (Dir. Vijay Jayapal, 2016, India)


Revelations is about the inadequacies and vulnerabilities of relationships. Writer and director Vijay Jayapal crafts four memorable characters and appreciatively gives them time to grow. In doing so the director also draws on common archetypes – the housewife, the husband, a mysterious stranger, the youthful novice – connecting with a recognisable cultural code but inverting our expectations in trying to figure out their psychological flaws, taking such convincingly told urban stories into unpredictably rewarding places. A major theme of a city based film of this type, shot on location in Kolkata, is the ghostly lives of the characters (in fact, the central character of Shobha, a young Tamil woman, played by Lakshmi Priyaa, exudes a lasting spectral impression that recalls Shahani’s 1972 Maya Darparn) that seem at once invisible and concrete in the migratory urban sprawl. Credit to Jayapal for embracing the aural landscape of Kolkata, offering an incessant urban ambience (impressive sound design) to the unhurried narrative. Much of the film capitalises on the dead space that traverses the desperate lives of the four characters, personal repressions and anxieties rising to the surface. An abiding theme that seems to be the connective glue is the destruction and guilt that marriage can breed. But more significantly, Jayapal captures a benign resignation that marks the melancholy and enigma simmering beneath many of the relationships. Performances are impressive notably Lakshmi Priyaa and Chetan. What stands out in respect of the direction is Jayapal’s capacity to articulate the essence of what made Parallel Cinema so exceptional: the understatement of human emotions.


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