Bench Talkies is a compilation of six films from six filmmakers. The one recognizable name is, of course, Karthik Subbaraj, while the others are all aspiring directors. The films deal with various subjects and are in different genres and are of varying quality.
The opening film,
The Lost Paradise
by Anil Krishnan, is a silent film about a convict who is released from prison and makes his journey home. It is cloyingly sentimental and the background score is filled with wailing violins that keep nudging us to empathize with the character. Gopakumar's
is a genuine head-scratcher (it's a compliment, by the way) involving a triangular romance that as the filmmaker puts it in the end is about the collision of subconscious minds. It if filled with inner monologues (and English dialogues) that will make Gautham Menon blush.
is perhaps the most audacious film of the lot. The director, Charukesh Shekar, throws us directly into the climax of a story and we see two fatally injured men, burning with hate for one another, scrambling to kill the other first. It is shot in black and white with wide shots of the rocky, desolate landscape and extreme close-ups of the two men which give it the effect of a Western. Next, we get a "message movie" in the form of
, which is directed by Monesh. It is about a teenaged school student being sexually abused by his tuition master trying to save a fellow student and it checks all the "message movie" cliches, confusing in-your-face treatment for hard-hitting storytelling.
is totally mainstream. It is about a loser (someone who "has arrear in committing suicide") who tries to end his life one more time after the girl he is love with gets engaged, and his two friends try to stop it with the help of the girl. The director, Rathnakumar RM, has a light touch and the lines are genuinely hilarious with some of the vibe of
Siva Manasula Sakthi
, though he makes an ill-advised decision and slaps the tale with an extended bittersweet ending. But don't be surprised if this short, like
, becomes a feature film in the near future. The final film,
, is by Karthik Subbaraj and takes place on a fishing boat in mid-sea, and is about three fishermen (one of whom is played by Vijay Sethupathi) and their encounter with the Sri Lankan navy. You are reminded of the film
at some point but it is a quietly powerful that manages to quietly make a political statement as well.
Given that even feature films find it hard to get screens these days, the fact that
has managed to find theatres is in itself an achievement. And, as a first-of-its-kind initiative, it makes for a good enough watch, though some of the films and the filmmaking clearly have not managed to transcend the