Film Review: ‘Shadow of Water,’ a trek through the jungle with a predictable ending

The film was screened at the Venice Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 10 September 2019

Film Review: ‘Shadow of Water,’ a trek through the jungle with a predictable ending

VENICE: The latest outing of Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, the Indian director who makes movies in his native Malayalam (the language spoken in Kerala), Shadow of Water (Chola) appeared in the second most important category, Horizons, at the Venice Film Festival. One of his very early creations, An Off-Day Game, was remarkable for the manner in which it tore apart caste divisions and the biases associated with them. Its climax was shocking and completely unpredictable. His next work, S Durga, ran into censor problems because of its original name, Sexy Durga. It was a story of a young couple who are eloping in the middle of the night, and the uneasy experiences they have. Sasidharan conveyed fear without actually resorting to any violence, truly Hitchcockian!

But Shadow of Water is several notches below S Durga and An Off-Day Game. To begin with, the director appears to be on a familiar, beaten track – of a young couple and their nightmarish night in the jungles of Kerala. Janaki (Nimisha Sajayan) looks like a schoolgirl, but she is in love with a wimpy boy (unnamed, played by Akhil Viswanath), and decides to take a trip to the city, chaperoned (nobody knows why) by his boss, a burly guy who is called Aasan or Master (Joju George). Janaki is clearly nervous, perhaps having bunked classes and coming away on the sly. Her lover hardly seems confident of handling his girl, who is upset in the first place that he has brought along his boss. And it all goes horribly wrong.

Shadow of Water throws up more questions than it cares to answer. What was the Master’s interest in taking the young couple on a trip in his vehicle? Did he have an ulterior motive? And after a traumatic experience in a city hotel room, Janaki’s behavior appears bewildering. One critic called it the Stockholm Syndrome. But can anyone develop it in a matter of few hours? Surely it takes days.

It is a weak plot and not scripted with enough care. If Sajayan goes overboard with her hysterics, the men are uni-dimensional, almost caricaturist. The movie, at two hours long, seems stretched with long scenes in the vehicle and the forests that ultimately lead to a tragedy we all knew was coming. Honestly, it is time Sasidharan moved on from his stories of fear and angst.

George and Amal Clooney to donate $100,000 to Lebanese charities

Updated 07 August 2020

George and Amal Clooney to donate $100,000 to Lebanese charities

DUBAI: American actor George Clooney and his wife, Lebanese-British human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, are donating $100,000 to Lebanese charities helping those left homeless by the deadly explosion in Beirut.

The blast, which broke though the capital city on Aug. 4, has killed at least 137 people and injured thousands.

According to Variety, the couple said: “We’re both deeply concerned for the people of Beirut and the devastation they’ve faced in the last few days.”

“Three charitable organizations we’ve found are providing essential relief on the ground: the Lebanese Red Cross, Impact Lebanon, and Baytna Baytak. We will be donating to these three $100,000 and hope that others will help in any way they can,” they added.

Other celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, DJ Khaled, and singer Dua Lipa, have been taking to social media to show their support for victims, and online influencers around the world have been urging their followers to make donations toward rescue and recovery work.