Kia and Cosmos movie review: Sudipto Roy's debut feature is a sensitive study of a young girl’s mind

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Apr 02, 2019 12:59:55 IST


Language: Bengali

Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)

There are some filmmakers who are fortunate enough to have good actors in their films. There are some actors who are lucky to have excellent filmmakers direct them. And there are some films in which everything and everyone good just happen to come together – like a cosmic coincidence that was destined to happen, although no one knows how. Sudipto Roy’s debut feature film Kia and Cosmos is that kind of film. Even after several hours of watching it, I can’t help but wonder how – just how – everything worked out in favour of the film. Despite all the hard work, and all the talent, it is that cement that binds them all together that is the biggest highlight of the film. And that’s nothing short of a miracle.

Kia and Cosmos movie review: Sudipto Roys debut feature is a sensitive study of a young girl’s mind

Ritwika Pal in a still from Kia and Cosmos. Image via Facebook

Kia Chatterjee is a special girl with special needs. She has just hit her teens; she has an incredibly sharp mind and a photographic memory. Her favourite pastimes are rattling of prime and Fibonacci numbers to herself, counting red cars on the streets and writing her diary. Kia lives with her mother; her father has succumbed to cardiac problems. She has fond memories of her father, though. And although it may seem that she is incapable of feeling grief, she is devastated by her father’s untimely departure. When her pet cat Cosmos dies a few weeks pregnant, Kia’s sixth sense tells her that the poor animal’s death was anything but natural, and that she was murdered. She vows to find the culprit and embarks upon a journey that will lead her to a shocking truth.

It’s a simple story, but one that lays the foundation of a deep, detailed and sensitive study of a young girl’s mind. And the beauty of it all is that it just so happens that Kia has special needs – because even if she weren’t, the story would have been just as beautiful and relevant. In essence then, Roy’s story is a universal one – of loss and search, of sacrifice and the angst that results from it, of parenthood and loneliness, and of the journey from being a girl to becoming a woman. I cannot think of any film in recent years that has explored the mind of a young girl as beautifully as Roy’s film has. Kia’s relationship with a young rickshaw driver entrusted with the responsibility of ferrying her back and forth from school is a beautifully platonic one, and she has found what can be best described as the ideal listener in a man who may or may not exist. In other words, her world is full of beautiful people, and it is of such people that her father used to speak of – people with nothing but love, compassion and kindness in their hearts.

The film can deservedly boast of some amazing technical work. The sound design by Abhinav Agnihotri, for instance, is refreshingly innovative and experimental, without being over-the-top. The editing by Anirban Maity is crisp and is a perfect companion to one of the best cinematography I have seen in recent years – in films of any language. Aditya Varma’s camerawork takes us right into the dimly lit and grim atmosphere of Kia’s house – so much so that you can literally smell the decay and hear the crumbling of the household.

There is an extended scene in the film – one in which Kia’s mother is cleaning her up after the girl has had her periods. The unfazed sound of the crickets, the unforgiving camera holding still on the two women, the flickering of the candlelight on the walls, and the frustration of an exhausted mother who is sick and tired of fighting a lone battle – these are only some of the things that this marvelous scene is marked with. And if there is anything that elevates the scene to the highest echelons of cinematic perfection, it has got to be Swastika Mukherjee’s performance – clearly her career-best. Watching her tearfully struggle with her daughter, I couldn’t help but wonder how, having worked in some of the biggest films in the industry throughout her career, all it took was a tiny indie film from a debutant director to bring out the best in her. Perhaps that is the magic of the performing arts.

Swastika Mukherjee in Kia and Cosmos. Image via Twitter

Swastika Mukherjee in Kia and Cosmos. Image via IMDb

And what an extraordinary find debutant Ritwika Pal is! There are moments when you will literally feel the agony that she is going through, and the helplessness that accompanies it. There is no respite from her situation, everything that she loves has been taken away from her. And yet, she puts on a brave front and moves ahead in life, without a care in the world if she is marching to the tunes of what people call a ‘normal’ life. Mark my words, this young girl will go places. She is a born actor and there is something elegant and natural about her.

Sudipto Roy has created a veritable masterpiece, the kind of cinema that we should all be proud of. His deep understanding of Kia’s condition, and his sensitive handling of the issue is highly commendable. Also noteworthy is the number of commentaries he makes on several important socio-political issues, without even once adopting a direct, straightforward route. On watching the film, the first impression you would get is that he has taken his time to lovingly paint a beautiful portrait, stepping back to scrutinise it every now and then, correcting flaws, reworking, adding layers and nuances that would be visible only to the eyes of connoisseurs, but always, always remaining grounded. In other words, Roy is a true artist, and his first feature film Kia and Cosmos is the highest form of art.

Updated Date: Apr 02, 2019 12:59:55 IST

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