2021: A year of Love, Labour and Loss

Love is a mystery. Love is unitive. Love is how we connect as human beings with one another and with the whole universe together. Love is how we learn, become better, and make the world a better place to live for us and others. Love needs freedom to breathe, equality to thrive, and openness to flow and grow. Love is personal, political, philosophical, sexual, social, historical, metaphysical, transcendental, et al. Sadly, we have only one word to describe such a complex emotion. The ancient Greeks had six different words, but even that’s not enough. 2021 taught me new ways to describe the complexity of love and its various hues. Love lost on many counts, but it miraculously sprang on a few occasions like a phoenix. My LOVE vocabulary was defined and redefined by people who touched my life one way or another this year.

shillpi a singh

LOVE IS GIVING: The Gift

LOVE IS GIVING: The Gift

Producer-director Suman Bhattacharya’s debut movie, The Gift, is a short, simple and beautiful present. It has the quintessential O Henryesque flavour in its tone and tenor. Unlike a toffee or chocolate, The Gift does not come clothed in a fancy wrapper. Unlike other presents that give temporary contentment, this one is an emotion and provides deep satisfaction. The power of unconditional love. The power of selfless giving. The audience needs to peel off the various layers to see the real Gift here, and that’s a clever task by the debutant director.

The endearing film opens with the morning hustle-bustle of a busy metropolis, Kolkata. The city and its milieu, its daily grind, the mad rush to make a living, and in the process, forgetting how to live and choosing just to exist. That’s the bane of our being. The dull and insignificant events that happen in a day flow with clockwork precision but hardly matter to us in the larger scheme of things. They only make us more indifferent and disconnected from ourselves and each other. Nothing really tugs at one’s heartstrings. Nothing seems to matter anymore.

LOVE IS GIVING: The Gift

The camera takes us through the mundane life of urban residents until the day draws to an end, and a dog sleeping on the pavement conveys the subtlety of this profound statement. The subtle notes of the sitar playing in the background make the story’s plot music to one’s ears.

The narrator leads the audience into another day, but it comes covered in myriad human emotions that unfold, scene by scene, and by the end, the audience finally gets to unwrap the gift they had waited for all along.
The ten something girl comes with her father to an upmarket bakery to buy a birthday cake but realises that these things are way beyond their means. Her father makes up for it, but without compromising on his self-respect. Just when we had lost everything that we thought there was to lose, and everything seemed dark and gloomy, the father-daughter duo came along and gave us something for free. It is the greatest gift one can ever give another person (here, the uber-rich woman who comes to the cafe and orders chicken quiche and hazelnut cappuccino, and also the audience), and that is one’s happiness. Remember the smiley chocolate? The girl gives it away, quite literally and also metaphorically.

LOVE IS GIVING: The Gift

The little girl’s generous heart is open. It is always ready to give even things that it can’t afford. She doesn’t belong but offers the most precious gift — the experience of knowing that we always belong, somewhere, somehow, and to people who are special.

The narrator’s takeaway is also ours — never mind those failures till yesterday because each new day is a sequel of a beautiful life; gifted with hopes to succeed. The movie starring Adrija Chakraborty, Jayati Chakraborty and Ashok Majumder is all about unconditional love and selfless giving. There is also a not-so-obvious reference to The Gift of the Magi’s magical sentence, “Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.”

LOVE IS GIVING: The Gift

Like O Henry’s heartwarming story, The Gift of the Magi, Suman’s short film The Gift brings joy all along, much more than the material value of the onscreen exchange, and that’s what is a priceless gift for the audience too.
It is currently doing festival rounds and has had 18 screenings, seven awards and counting. The Gift’s next stop is the online International Kolkata Short Film Festival from January 22-29, 2022.

Gifts of the heart can’t be claimed by anyone except the giver.

Nicholas Sparks

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