Ahard hitting comment on the dark side of urbanisation in the National Capital region, debutant Siddharth Srinivasan captures the moral ambivalence that underlines this mindless pursuit for development through some stark metaphors. The independent film shows us a side of Delhi that is neither picturesque, nor funny. Where money moulds the morality and brute force modulates relationships.
Siddharth tells his story through a watchman, a ubiquitous creature in the heartless concrete jungle but somebody who hardly finds space on screen. Bhanu (Divyendu Bhattacharya) selflessly guards barren silica mine, whom his lecherous master Ahlawat (Avtar Sahani) wants to sell to an old man with the promise that it could be used for building residential towers. He knows it won’t be easy because the mine was shut down on the orders of the court for polluting the region. So he offers a bonus to the old man: the hand of his daughter.
Understanding her plight, she runs away with her boyfriend but Ahalwat gets the boy butchered through his cronies which includes a police constable. It sends his daughter into a spiral that he cannot control. The same Ahlawat doesn’t allow scruples come into his way when he physically exploits Saroj (Saba Joshi conveys the pain and helplessness), the wife of Bhanu. Saroj gives in to his demands because he gives them money to make the ends meet but at the same time she wants Bhanu to stand up to his master. Bhanu keeps serving because of the familial loyalty but by the end we discover that he knew what his master was up to. If Bhanu’s helplessness is disturbing, Ahlawat’s depravity is disquieting. The bareness of the mines and coldness of the skyscrapers sucks you into this unhinged world. Though it was necessary to establish the brutality of the situation at times Siddharth’s camera enters into the voyeur’s domain as if Ahlawat is calling the shots!
The performances get theatrical at times and the sudden change of the behaviour of the constable doesn’t pass muster. Siddharth parries many questions in the name of experiment but overall Pairon Talle leaves you uneasy and denuded of most pretences. And that’s an achievement in times of feel good cinema.
Cast:Divyendu Bhattacharya, Avtar Sahani, Saba Joshi
Plot: A look at the dark side of urbanisation
Bottomline: Real and disquieting