Mixed signals


What’s the city’s most scholarly film critic doing in a short film?

A traffic signal is often a blind spot for commuters – people sigh exasperatedly waiting for the signal to turn green, they hop out of their vehicle to buy a pack of cigarettes or shop from the many vendors who peddle wares at these junctions. Filmmaker Alan Aranha was at one such crossroads in Mumbai when he found himself surrounded by a group of flower-selling girls. An idea bloomed. He talked to his friends Bharat Mirle and Sudhanva Atri. They made a 1.30 min film called Junction. The action, brief as it is, unfolds at a traffic signal.

The movie tells the story of a girl selling flowers on CMH Road in Indira Nagar, when a car pulls up. When the passenger, a slightly taciturn gent in a blazer, finally notices her, the film’s conceit becomes evident to the viewer.

What’s unusual about the film isn’t the choice of subject – the flowers the girl clutches in her hand is, in a manner of speaking, meant to induce a Chekhovian plot twist. Rather it has to do with a casting decision: that of the actor in the car. The role is played by the incisive, sagacious and often vitriolic film critic MK Raghavendra. “This is the first time I have acted in a film,” Raghavendra said. “Anybody can do a oneand- a-half minute film. They [the filmmakers] put together a context in which certain expressions could be exhibited.” For the filmmakers it was a convenient choice. “We needed someone who was a little elderly, and had his own blazer… he fit the bill,” said Aranha. It helped matters, it would appear, that Raghavendra is Mirle’s father.

This is the first time that the three filmmakers have collaborated on a project.Junction was selected for the Berlin International Directors Lounge last month. The story, it seems, has struck a chord. “Incredible things happen in seemingly ordinary places and situations,” said Aranha. “A traffic junction is a treasure trove of fascinating experiences. Once you get out of the rut of life, you discover that what goes on in ordinary life is in fact extraordinary.
Junction can be viewed on www.youtube.com.

By Bijal Vachharajani on March 15 2013 5.46am


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