In Review: Man, Letter, House (Abhijeet Dey, 2019)

If anybody wants to see the film, please click the link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR06VeZ9OT1iA3usOpRn-GiSXXBzzgw9vRwS4O0zUcR78IKMYNYLRu98rig&v=f1OAMTjnKZc&feature=youtu.be

It is most likely worth opening by stating that I know and have spoken to Abhijeet on many occasions. I’ve admired his interest in a range of different arts (a trait that we share, particularly in a mutual interest in poetry and film), and his general approach to art which is overall very positive and welcoming to work of all types of style. His photography experiments are always interesting, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that  he was quoting Scott Walker when, in fact, he was just posting his own poetry (humbly called ‘scribbles’!), and his films have interested me too. I previously wrote on Graveyard Lullabies (link here: , which was actually the first indie film I ever reviewed on this blog, so I owe a lot to that film beyond the direct artistic inspiration that I took from it at the time, a time when I opened the blog as a side-hobby with the intention of continuing to make films (an intention I still have!). Graveyard Lullabies was, just alone would have expected from Abhijeet, poetic, artful and visually quite experimental. HIs projects have consistently been refreshingly ambitious compared to most other low-no budget works, so I had pretty high expectations when Abhijeet came to me and asked me to review his latest short film, Man, Letter, House.

And thankfully, I wasn’t let down – though I was certainly surprised by the film itself. Taking his confidence in his own work up a notch and presenting one of the most intriguing short films I’ve seen in quite some time, Dey’s film is about an amateur filmmaker following a ‘mysterious man’ (played by Himanshu Kalita, who was also in Graveyard Lullabies) with his camera. Immediately, Man Bites Dog comes to mind, of course, but this film is entirely different, acting as a surprisingly humorous, mysterious and philosophical film that is really quite experimental – far more than one would expect, at least. Surprisingly, Dey allows himself to play around with the colours (sometimes applying a dark red filter, as seen in the shot below!) and aspect ratios, letting himself go further than the usual black and white filter applied to indie films and the usual 4:3 by using those as well as stranger alternatives, such as the aforementioned red filter and a mix of aspect rations throughout. Add to this the generally mysterious patience that the film has, and it becomes all the more impressive. It feels like a film made by somebody truly seasoned in the cinema as an art, someone who has carefully observed what works and what doesn’t, and then found the perfect middle line between the two.

Just to further add to this, the film is also mostly silent, choosing to go with mostly white noise and more abstract noises as opposed to letting the audience hear the dialogue, letting the dialogue be known through subtitles instead. In general, silence is ruthlessly underused in cinema, and so this was a pleasant surprise to me – I just quoted Bresson on the last review, but the same applies here – silence is just as important as sound is, as one can’t exist without the other (to paraphrase)! The beautiful cinematography certainly makes this experimental work even more indelible, too – the locations chosen are just perfect and the photography takes full advantage of them, as can be seen in the shot below. It’s really quite beautiful.

It has to be said – I really do appreciate the more visually playful approach adopted here. It’s nice to be caught off guard, and being caught off guard happens less and less as time goes on and one sees more films. Hell, I haven’t really been surprised by a film since Tenet! The confidence in the form here is just wonderful, and well deserved for an artist having this much fun with their craft. I’ve spoken before about how I feel that there’s a new wave of cinema gradually bubbling upcoming from these ‘amateur’ productions (a term I despise!). These low-no budget productions cobbled together by friends and artists around the world, thanks to the new availability of cameras and the new access to all kinds of inspiring art via the internet, are also consistently the most inspiring works to me and many others, as they show what is possible just by grabbing a camera and thinking out what to film. Budget is becoming less important, or at least, less of a restriction on cinema which used to be an art only for the elite to partake in. 

With Dey directing, editing and shooting this film, it is clearly a film of passion, just as his other work (both those in and outside of cinema) have been. It’s great to see his work continue to grow in confidence, and it’s even better to see his work slowly becoming weirder! Here’s hoping that the next film will be splattered purple, shown upside down and subtitled backwards! Cinema is in need of rule breakers, and Abhijeet has consistently filled that space.

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