Ahalya, a short film by Sujoy ‘Kahaani’ Ghosh has been the talk of the web for a while now. I have seen this film pop up on my “youtube” window every time I logged on and within a few days, I was compelled to give it a look. The story is that of the classic tale from Ramayana of the lady Ahalya who was considered to be the most beautiful woman on earth. She was married to the sage Gautama Maharishi. Ahalya was either coxed or willingly gave into an extramarital consummation with Indra and was cursed by Gautama Maharishi. She later was resurrected by Rama himself.
Sujoy Ghosh’s story however takes an uncanny take on the whole matter. A police inspector arrives at an artist’s home to investigate the disappearance of a model. He meets his alluring wife who is of the man’s daughter’s age. While browsing through the stuff in the man’s house he comes across a doll which resembles the model he is looking for. Further questioning of the artist unravels a story that you will not be expecting.
Even at a runtime of 15 minutes, the film leaves a deep impact on you. It takes the basic premise of the story of Ahalya and gives it a unique contemporary twist. The mood and the setting is beautifully envisioned elevating the feel and reach of the narrative. The performance by the three characters are so believable that they quickly consume you and engulf your sense in the mist of the mystery that the narrative spins. The film has shades of The Collection, an episode from The Twilight Zone TV series, Satyajit Ray‘s short story Professor Shonku and Strange Dolls and also of Alma, an animated short film.
Radhika Apte not only looks the part but also captivates you with her mysterious little essay. When she is on screen, it is difficult to take your eyes off her. Soumitra Chatterjee as Goutam Sadhu, an artist and Ahalya’s husband is top notch. From the moment he appears on screen you know that he is more than what meets the eye. Tota Roy Chowdhury as the policeman Indra Sen is dazed and confused and becomes a rat caught in the deadly trap of the seduction game that Ahalya and her husband might be playing.
Ahalya is a must watch which should not be missed especially when you can watch it for free online. Sujoy Ghosh’s deft touch and the thrilling story and performances gives ample reason to spend a very worthy 15 minutes on this little gem.