You go to watch LAALI ( directed by Bengali filmmaker Abhiroop Basu ) with a lot of expectations considering you have Pankaj Tripathi as the protagonist. You come back with a masterclass in cinematic shots and a slow-brilliance of performance by Pankaj Tripathi ( Gangs of Wasseypur film series, Masaan, Sacred Games, Mirzapur )
Bluish editing gives a touch of comfort to a istri-wala character. A comforting peace to the story of this self-indulgent-existential character brilliantly portrayed by Pankaj Tripathi. While he is going about ironing the clothes, you taste a slow life of a commoner, self-indulgent.
The zoomed-out shots: like between the clothes exaggerates the character softly and the soft move of the camera keeps you with the dialogue-less 6 minutes start of the short film Laali (except the radio and the hummings of Pankaj Tripathi .) Mindfulness floats across the texture of the scenes. The acting by Pankaj Tripathi is a class in mindfulness and the acting is more of internalizing ( as actor Rajkumar Rao talks about acting in a chat at FILM COMPANION.) LAALI celebrates commonness, the mundane, and individuality. Amplifying the shots with focus on legs emphasizes the commonness of the moment and brings and drowns you again with the existential bliss of being.
You cannot but not notice the planned shots by the director Abhiroop Basu: neatly organized, conceived with vision to keep your vision amplified to nothing much that is happening on the screen.
We like the lightness with which the theme of existence has been treated. It's quite possible to make the same scenes heavy with existential-jargons-and forced existential topics. Sometimes, you can hit reality in the gut, plain, naked when you keep things soft. Laali directed and Written, by Abhiroop Basu achieves this with sublimity. You want to keep visualizing the blue.
Pankaj Tripathi takes us on a journey with the red dress. He is a lonely man, He enjoys his radio. The songs that the radio plays are in a way about his mood. Romance for him is with the radio humming, in the odd hours, alone, singing to the radio at home, talking to himself.
Thinking about the red dress, whose is it? A customer on seeing the red dress asks, whose red
dress is it? Could you get the phone number of the lady ?
In the first six minutes, when there is only one shot Pankaj Tripathi is folding clothes and ironing them. It is a sight to watch and yes, such long shots make up a film, with just one action; and that is what make independent films so unique. In a moment, Pankaj Tripathi pretends to listen to the iron and it is hilarious.
In a chat at NYIFF with Pankaj Tripathi tells the festival Director that he kept acting until the director asked him to cut.
Compared to Director Abhiroop Basu's first film Meal which is on domestic violence. he has grappled with a different subject here. Talking about the first shot in LAALI to RAD TIMES he says on Instagram: