Kashish review: Sisak - When silence speaks

Posted on 31 May, 2017 by Team Wishberry

Lonely metal souls in the unimpeded darkness of space, they meet, pass each other, and part, never to meet again. No words passing between them. No promises to keep: Sputnik Sweetheart

Homosexuality is still a crime in India — in 2017 — the 21st century.

To stifle the expression of one’s right to freedom, there are absurd laws still in place in a country, which in the first place, received said laws from a colonizing force whose only aim was to destroy/ do away, with any shred of freedom that this great nation wanted for itself! India became independent, but alas, we still refuse to unshackle ourselves from the asphyxiating remnants of slavery, and British rule...

Sisak is a nod to those voices that remain hidden for fear of unjust persecution.

On May 28, Sisak’s Indian premiere was held during Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival’s eighth edition. Liberty Cinema at Marine Lines was pulsating with vibrant energy — it was the last day of Kashish. The crowd outside the DC stall of the theatre desperately wanted to get in. There was a little delay in the screening but once it began, Liberty Cinema turned into a space where silence wasn’t an option. There were hoots, loud applause, collective gasps and overall exuberant anticipation. The excitement and buzz around Sisak was palpable when festival director Sridhar Rangayan introduced director Faraz Arif Ansari.

Sisak has been hailed as India’s first silent LGBTQ love story. Its run-time is 15 minutes and in those minutes, Sisak poignantly makes its point. Emotions such as love, friendship, and camaraderie are universal in nature and are not subjected to societal norms that inflict regulations, which are nothing but tools that enable the physical and psychological control of human beings by apparatuses that seek nothing but absolute control and power.

Filmed entirely in Mumbai’s iconic local trains, this fleeting love story of two strangers depicts a journey undertaken both inwards and outwards. With no dialogues or mainstream hyperbole (song-and-dance routines, exotic locations and melodrama to name a few) to aid the process of storytelling, Faraz resorts to true filmmaking. The camera aids his project. It is hand-held and raw. It is not there to paint a grandiose picture. Even the wide angles are intimate and it works for a film that wants to tell you a tale that society doesn’t want you to hear.

It all begins with a glance — entirely involuntary and so true of the thousands of strangers who travel together, day after day, every day, on modes of transport in thriving metropolises to forward a life in the modern world. Some glances stick — they make a lasting impression.

The imagery and symbolism in Sisak are, to say the least, enchanting. A Mumbai-local train becomes the vessel through which two men, in different phases of their lives, exchange a part of their existence that makes most meaning for them. There is attraction and that attraction is met with a multitude of emotions including hesitance, fear of retribution, a cry of help and finally, helplessness.

The emotional turmoil of the young man is beautifully portrayed by Dhruv Singhal. His body language tells a thousand tales — the desperation in the eyes when waiting for ‘his’ stranger, the hands clutching a brown satchel that speak of both excitement because his heart and mind are once again, venturing into a blissful unknown and finally, his clothes — Dhruv’s character is a dreamer, an artist perhaps or maybe even a student — this is the beauty of Sisak — it lets your mind etch your own impressions on an already–beautiful narrative.

Jitin Gulati plays the older man and he plays it gracefully while deftly complementing Dhruv’s young boy. The older man is restrained. He reads Murakami. He is probably in a heterosexual equation of some kind — yet, he gives in to the ‘unspeakable’ connection that he feels for this young boy he just came across on a train. He makes an advance and is not met with resistance but with coy hesitance and that is beautiful.

The third player in this silent narrative is the background music. There is not much that one can say about it. It tides and ebbs beautifully with the narrative — It supports the film and honestly, it made me cry.

Faraz is an artist. And like every true artist, he knows that his art comes with a purpose — therefore, it is no surprise that Faraz chose to dedicate his second independent film to unsaid, untold, and in this case, to ‘forbidden’ stories of fleeting moments of love.

P.S.: Sisak had successfully crowdfunded over Rs. 4 Lakhs on Wishberry. Did you know that 85-90% of the funds came from outside the LGBTQ community?

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