ASHA JAOAR MAJHE / LABOUR OF LOVE (Dir. Aditya Vikram Sengupta, 2014, India) – Time and Space


Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s Labour of Love is an intrepid experiment, dispensing entirely with dialogue, relying on sound and images to weave a lyrical narrative about two individuals in Calcutta. Sengupta deploys a hypnotic observational style, dwelling fondly on the micro details of those in-between moments so common to neorealist cinema and particularly De Sica’s films. The trivial aspects of everyday life such as sleeping, cooking, working are amplified and seized with a beauty, emphasising the hidden poetry of a time in which a dreadful recession had crippled much of Calcutta. Sengupta’s background as a graphic designer is exhibited in the haunting visual compositions, framed with an elegance and precision contradicting the wider social and political disruption. Everything in this film is elongated so that we feel time and space with an infinite, microscopic residue. The impulse of memories make us question if the events on screen are in fact being played out in a parallel cinematic subconscious, merging eventually into a monochrome dream sequence, fragmenting temporal and spatial assumptions into a wonderland of primal imagery. Connections between people are at times invisible yet Sengupta magnifies the sense of connectedness through clothes and food, relaying an unspoken affection that speaks volumes about the will to carry on, to forge ahead, and to exist with the most unquestionable sincerity. In many ways, Sengupta’s film is avant-garde in its stylistic ambitions and another insatiable alternate Indian film validating the idea of Indian cinema incessantly innovative in its pluralist cinematic susceptibilities. Labour of Love premiered at this year’s Venice Film Festival, garnering some admirable reviews, which makes Sengupta yet another talent to watch in the future. The film will also be showing at the Mumbai Film Festival later this week.