Konkona Sen Sharma and Tillottama Shome show opposites do attract in the sparkling 'Nayantara's Necklace'

Rajyasree Sen

Oct 16, 2015 16:42:29 IST

Keep it simple, stupid. That’s pretty much the motto of Large Short Films and of the latest film they’ve released, Nayantara's Necklace, directed by Jaydeep Sarkar and starring Konkona Sen Sharma and Tillottama Shome.

Large Short Films is a commendable initiative by Seagram’s Royal Stag, in which the company produces short films by directors who are both well-known and little-known. The first film in this collection was Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya, a contemporary take on the myth of Ahalya and starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Radhika Apte and the beautifully-named Tota Roy Chowdhury.

Nayantara's Necklace is also about a woman and her desires, but in a very different way. The film stars two of the finest actresses we have in India. Sen Sharma and Shome — who are good friends in real life — tell a tale of a friendship between two women who don’t seem to fit together. Sen Sharma who plays Nayantara, an upwardly mobile and flashy woman, who is always made-up and shiny. Shome plays Alka, a simple housewife whose life revolves around her domesticity. The two meet because their sons go to the same school and because they’re neighbours.

Sen Sharma is highly entertaining and convincing as the worldly wise woman about town who takes a simpleton under her wing. She teaches Alka how to pronounce Chardonnay, swill wine and be the perfect coquette. Shome plays the ingénue in absolute awe of Nayantara, who appears to have the perfect marriage, bank balance and nails.

Konkona Sen Sharma and Tillottama Shome show opposites do attract in the sparkling Nayantaras Necklace

Screengrab.

Their unlikely friendship blossoms when Alka opens a Facebook account upon Nayantara's urging and this puts her back in touch with a school crush, Girish (Gulshan Devaiah). He’s now a jetsetting CEO so before meeting him, Nayantara gives Alka pointers on how to be more fashionable and charming. Alka watches closely, convinced that she must become a replica of her happy, charming and garrulous friend in order to impress Girish. Just before the date, Nayantara lends Alka her pearl necklace.

But all is not what it seems in Nayantara’s Necklace. There’s a twist in the tale and it is surprising. You don’t expect it and it does make sense. I won’t give away the ending, but suffice to say that the saying “sab kuch maya hai” fits perfectly over here.

What’s interesting are the subtle commentaries on morality. Alka, who seems to be the homebody whose life revolves around looking after her child and her husband, is the one who is open to the idea of having an affair. Nayantara, the bubbly but world-weary one, balks at the thought of Alka’s dinner being any more than just that. She’s fine with encouraging and teaching her friend to flirt, but that doesn’t naturally translate into her having flexible morality. It’s a classic case of still waters running deep.

We also get a lesson about not judging a book by its cover, and the fact that opposites attract. And that one mustn’t live beyond one’s means. Basically, it’s a short film that drives home many pithy sayings in its 20 minutes’ duration. Including a non-pithy and practical one – beware of taking loans (watch the film to know how I learnt that lesson).

All in all, it’s heartening to see money being put behind non-commercial cinema and to see such nuanced women-centric films being supported. Both Ahalya and Nayantara's Necklace cast actresses who don’t fit into the traditional mould of Hindi film actresses. Their looks are unconventional, they can act and they’re unafraid of taking on roles that range from grey to black in their morality. So kudos to Large Short Films for that.

If I didn’t like the film and the effort as much as I did, I would advise Long Short Films to rename itself as the "Jataka Tales Redux" because the two films released by Large Short Films can also double up as morality lessons. It might be a responsible move — after watching them, I feel that if I drink Royal Stag, I may end up being a little inebriated, but I’ll be an inebriated morally upright person. Cheers to that.

Updated Date: Oct 16, 2015 16:43:15 IST