Jhilli movie review (2021)
Ishaan Ghose’s “Jhilli” plunges its audience into the heart of one of the nation’s largest dumping grounds. Dhapa, situated on the eastern outskirts of the city, is showcased in unprecedented detail, a sight rarely captured on film before. Ghose masterfully employs a captivating visual language that is both mesmerizing and stirring. While not the first film to shed light on the struggles of the underprivileged, “Jhilli” strives for something more profound.
The narrative follows Bokul (portrayed by Aranya Gupta), employed at a bone factory within Dhapa. He discovers that the landfill site will soon give way to modern infrastructure. However, the depiction of his struggles, alongside those of his friends, defies conventional storytelling. The film offers an unflinching portrayal of life’s harsh realities without explicitly seeking empathy or outrage.
Throughout the majority of the film, Ghose accentuates spaces—a deliberate technique that underscores the concept of inhabitation. This serves as the cornerstone of his world-building approach. Whether it’s the haunting image of a burning corpse amidst the refuse, Bokul and Ganesh’s encounters with their lascivious elder colleague Shombhu by a mound of garbage, or scenes captured along the “familiar” streets of Kolkata, the visuals articulate the film’s core message about gentrification. “Sorkar tomader ki diyeche?” (“What has the government given you?”), Bokul’s voice reverberates as he shouts toward the bulldozers, seemingly clearing the dumping ground.
In a recent interview, Ghose shared his intention: “So many short or feature films end up losing their essence amid the trials and high expectations involved. That’s why I aimed to create something candid and authentic, encapsulating the intensity and uniqueness of life. The only way to achieve this was by crafting a film that would transport me into uncharted territory.” “Jhilli” undoubtedly fulfills this mission, offering a fresh perspective on Kolkata by unflinchingly redirecting the viewer’s gaze.
The film’s cinematography, sound design, unconventional camaraderie, and even the artful inclusion of profanities that provoke uneasy laughter all warrant a cinematic experience on the big screen. While the concluding ten minutes might leave viewers craving a more definitive resolution, the ingenious camera work during these final sequences introduces an element of surrealism.
In essence, “Jhilli” not only delves into the depths of Dhapa but also into the complexities of the human experience. It’s a cinematic journey that confronts raw realities while pushing artistic boundaries, ultimately inviting the audience to reassess their perspective on both society and film.
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