Here is my review of Tu (you), a short film by Royals Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films starring Sayani Gupta and Arjun Radhakrishnan.
Tu, a short film directed by Rahul Nangia, is a meticulously crafted tale of two ill-fated lovers told in under eight minutes. In its run time, it successfully establishes the relationship and its conflict. The tonality and lighting are dark, their space seems claustrophobic, the blatant intimacy between the two leading characters in the opening shot itself makes you uncomfortable, and ever since the beginning, the audience understands that their relationship is doomed.
The film runs on a single string conversation between the two lovers where the writers have brilliantly woven their love story which unfolds in front of your eyes. Over the course of this conversation, you realise that her name is Supriya, while he is a Murtaza; that their inconspicuous meetings are going on for a long time now; that she is the one who is rebellious (because she arranges the rooms for their meetings); that he is utterly scared of his father and works at his shop; that she is engaged to another person; that he is still economically dependent on his father (his phone is taken away because the bill was INR 3,000) and even though all this is an age-old, monotonous, repetitive conflict you still become completely invested in their story.
Visually, the short film aims at making you aware of the couple’s comfortable relationship. Throughout the film, we only see the two characters totally invested into each other, giving us a closer look at their bond which further fuels our pity for them. In the midst of this, using the narrative of them watching their old video at Mumbai’s Lover’s Point, out in the open, under the blue sky, near the uncontrollable waves of the sea and away from their present situation works wonders for the film. It symbolises the naivety of love, which transforms into a complex cacophony when it transcends the societal demands and rules.
The ending is ambiguous, but anyone can complete the story without any faults because it is a story which has been told a million times, one which we all have heard, read or watched. The last sequence leading up to the end shows the two characters panic-stricken, running around in their limited space, the rebellious girl finding an escape while the scared boy all set to face the reality, with their wobbly voices running in the background. You can hear the tears in their voices and the rawness of their fear. Herein, again, the screen miraculously cuts back to that happy video, making our heart sore for the hopeless lovers. The video has a cinematic zoom-in and out between timelines.
In its short run time, Tu is successful at making you feel things for the poor couple, a feat that many-a-times even 3-hour long Bollywood Romances are unable to achieve. Watch it for its simplicity in storytelling, sincere and honest filmmaking and utterly graceful performances by the lead characters.
Image Credits: Film Companion