Director Kanu Behl uses internal monologue to explore all the layers of his protagonist’s rage.
Hindi cinema has thrived on the portrait of the ‘angry young man’. In Kanu Behl’s short, Binnu ka Sapna, the emotions are more nuanced and the fear visceral. It was the only Indian entry selected for the coveted Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France, where it won the student jury prize. The film follows Binnu, who has grown up witnessing the unholy matrimony of his parents, settled into their roles without love for the other or enthusiasm for life. Binnu’s anecdotes and observations construct a complex and disturbing psychological study of the titular character. The internal monologue pays rich dramatic dividends. “I was curious to travel down the rabbit hole and see what turned his voice into the unfathomable rage that it becomes,” says Behl, best known for his critically acclaimed feature Titli and for co-writing L.S.D. (Love Sex aur Dhokha). “A conventional dialogue-narrative structure would have left the most important bottom layers out of sight. The voice-over became the only available tool to travel into the naked interiors of Binnu’s ‘wonderland’,” adds Behl.
The other effective tool to communicate is the use of freeze frames, especially hard-hitting when Binnu interacts with women. By literally pausing the narrative, Behl compels the viewer to engage and reflect harder. “I wanted the ‘film’ to stop for a moment, and ‘us’ to be taken back into our own lives,” says Behl. “It became an opportunity to create ripples in the fictional realm of the particular story being told.”
Newcomer Chetan Sharma does a compelling job highlighting the suppression of rage that dictates Binnu’s professional and personal life. His eyes, in particular, convey the power of Behl’s prose which in turn emphasises Binnu’s misogyny and his chaotic worldview. Through the 32-minute short, Behl wanted to not only highlight “the tragedy of the violence”, but also “take a deeper view, both into our ‘personal and universal’ and unearth some roots to the ‘whys’ of all the Binnus within us”. The truth here doesn’t just sting, it shocks.