In the middle of towering, snow-clad mountains, an abandoned, dilapidated bus sits uncannily. Inside the bus, four little children are waiting for the viewers of the short film, The Silent Echo, to acquaint them of their ambition as musicians. This opening sequence of Suman Sen’s short film, with its stunning backdrop and intriguing mise-en-scène, immediately announces to the viewer that this film is about to be a short but sentimental cinematic journey.
The Silent Echo is a story about unfulfilled dreams, underlying emotions, unspoken despair. It is about the way we see the world and the way nature sees us. It is about the overburdening and irrelevant distinction we make on ourselves, without even realising how insignificant we are,” discloses Suman. Atmospheric and affective in its visuality, the film finds the roots of its ethereal undertones in Bombay’s monsoons. “Mumbai monsoon is gorgeously destructive. I live on a higher floor and the rooms face the direction of the sea. A direct, ghastly sea wind passes through my rooms. During the rainy season, if you try to open the windows a little, a whistling sound creates a very eerie,atmospheric feel. I think this is the incident from where I started conceiving the story.”
The film, though, is set in the mountainous terrain of Nepal, majestic and mystical. “I am a mountain person and for some reason I have a biased belief that whatever innocence is left in the world, it’s there in the mountains. Maybe because mountains make you humble,” expresses the filmmaker of his intention behind basing his film in the mountains. The topography is crucial to the echoic language of the film, that is subtly powerfully and rarely verbose, relying with unassuming proclivity, on the imagery of the shots and the characters within them.
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Words Nidhi Verma