We discuss three, indie films recently released on Netflix.

Netflix India has added a good amount of indigenous content and I finally had a good amount of time to watch three indie films back to back. I watched Music Teacher, Fireflies, and Teen Aur Aadha. All the three films are completely different from each other in terms of story, screenplay and technical approach yet there is something that brings in the similarity-“a stellar cast and budget!”

One thing I have learned about myself while watching films is that my first reaction to any film I find brilliant and bad is the same – “I didn’t understand what just happened!” I’ll be glad to know if I am not the only one because I can’t imagine people not going “whaaaaat” in both cases. So this review will be totally based on the number of ‘whats’ per film.

Music Teacher – “Whaaaaaaat”

I watched the entire film with utmost patience but sadly for me, it was not worth it. It felt like it could have been a beautiful read but to watch it was not a very fulfilling experience. It seemed like no one knew what were they doing. Manav Kaul’s character Beni was grey but clueless. It evolves only to be led to nowhere.

Amrita Bagchi as Jyotsna is surprisingly one of the best things about the film but still couldn’t save it because her character hasn’t been written with as much depth as Beni’s.

The other best thing is Divya Dutta playing a deserted wife and neighbor to Beni. We can only wonder how Dutta does it. But again, the problem of her character not having the required depth ruins the film.

There is Neena Gupta playing Beni’s mother as well, but we can only wish she was given more to do other than worrying about Beni’s marriage. The film revolves around music but only has to offer average music with renditions of ‘Rimjhim Gire Saavan’ and ‘Phir Wahi Raat Hai’.

Sarthak Dasgupta’s Music Teacher does not really have anything new to offer, apart from the scenic beauty of Himachal Pradesh and a few dialogues that you can relate with.

Watching this film at 2 AM was not really a good idea, not because it made me feel things and changed my life but because I was expecting it to, and it didn’t. So at 4 AM, I was sitting in my room like “whaaaaat?”

Fireflies – “Hmm, what?”

Sabal Singh Shekhawat’s Fireflies is a beautiful story of two estranged brothers and how they find each other back when everything else is falling apart. It’s a story of love and loss in the lives of different individuals, mainly the two brothers, Rana (Arjun Mathur) and Shiv (Rahul Khanna) and a mysterious past they share which eventually unfolds and leaves you wondering about a lot of things in your life and a lot about the film as well including whether to feel good or melancholic after watching Fireflies.

I personally feel that the film started somewhere and ended somewhere else. It felt like watching too many films in one and it wasn’t joyful. The two women Michelle (Monica Dogra) and Maya in Rana and Shiv’s lives respectively are mysterious and they just leave us wondering about their lives and longing for their stories.

The film’s music goes well with the story and is actually delight in an otherwise slow-paced film. After watching Fireflies, I felt nice about watching it. It did hit home sometimes, it was cathartic but it was sometimes too fast and sometimes too slow with the progression of the story that I just couldn’t hold it close.

Teen Aur Aadha – “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat”

Dar Gai’s Teen Aur Aadha left me with so many emotions that I find myself thinking about the dialogues from the film while overhearing a random conversation. It is a story with the walls being the main character of the film. A house, fifty years old, and three different eras. The house has seen it all. It was once a school, then a brothel and then finally a house to an old couple. It has aged just like an individual, it has lived its childhood, youth and old age.

Teen Aur Aadha is three stories from three different times in the same house. The first one named ‘God of Death’, the second ‘God of Dance’ and the third being ‘God of Love’ and a ‘half’ in the end called, ‘Half God’.

With actors like Suhasini Mulay, MK Raina, Jim Sarbh, Zoya Husain, you just can’t go wrong with the acting. In fact, the characters they play in the film seem very different from the characters we are used to seeing them playing in the films. They are fresh and convincing. Anjum Rajabali’s character is bedridden but has so much substance that you’re just not able to take your eyes off him even for a second.

The most interesting thing about Dar Gai’s film is that it functions in ambiguity, challenging the minds of the audience to give it whatever meaning they want to give it and yet conveys the theme of each story very strongly. The use of repetitive props, symbols, shots, and dialogues are what combines the three stories together for me.

Another fact is that all three stories are single shots. The idea of shooting a film in one shot is fascinating but it is hard to achieve it. Dar Gai’s approach to making a film like this was to cast theatre actors who could make it possible as they are not really into ‘takes’.

Aakash Raj’s cinematography is worth an applause, you find yourself standing somewhere in a corner of the same room where the characters are. It does make you feel that it’s your eyes strolling around the room.

As I finished watching Teen Aur Aadha, I felt like I haven’t ever known anything about human emotions and life before this and like I have seen so much in life that it all makes sense now at the same time.

What should you watch?

All three of them. Maybe, just to support the indie scene or maybe because what doesn’t work for one reviewer, might work for someone else. But start with Teen Aur Aadha. And do not, in any circumstances, watch Music Teacher when you’re looking for something meaningful to watch, especially at 2 AM.

Pranjal Asha
Pranjal Asha

Pranjal loves to photograph & likes to believe she is in the 80s. Her special qualities include praising A.R. Rahman & Amol Palekar 24x7.