During a hot summer in Kolkata, a young man (Raja Chakravorty) and a young woman carrying a violin (Prakriti Dutta Mukherjee) meet by chance at a bus stop. They are complete strangers, but something compels them towards each other. Soon, they leave the bus stop and explore the city around them: busy streets, abandoned buildings, and overhead bridges. They go into an old music shop to swap the violin for a cello. Very quickly, a relationship is forged. Eventually they end up in a strange desert-like landscape where the young woman sits on a lonely chair and plays the cello.
isn’t much plot in Soumya Mukhopadhyay’s experimental short film, This
Summer in Waiting, a slow and meditative examination of a young couple’s
summer in the city of Kolkata. On the surface, it is an extremely simple and
minimalist film – it contains no dialogue or text, the camera hardly moves, and
there’s only a handful of scenes to speak of in the film’s 15-minute runtime.
Instead, it’s still shots that tell the story. There’s movement, but most of it
is contained to the background, in the busy rumble of the city. As the young
man and woman sit at the bus stop, the city lives a full life of its own, of
which we only get a glimpse. It’s perhaps messy and unruly, but very much
alive. The same continues as the couple goes through the city park, the train
station, or the old neighborhood where they purchase a new instrument. The
shots are still, but in their rich composition the director captures the spirit
of the city.
was particularly struck by the film’s rich soundscape that was constantly
looming in the background. While the film starts with long shots of the bus
stop, where we are not at all certain what is going on, the sound design
remains vibrant and dynamic, breathing life into an otherwise static picture.
At the end, we get to hear the young woman play her cello as the image
dissolves into a surrealist tableau. The end is puzzling and not easy to deconstruct,
except for its tone of melancholy as it signals the end of summer. The woman’s
beautiful song underscores just the same thing.
Summer in Waiting defies a solid
interpretation. It’s a short experimental film in which anyone may see something
entirely different. Or see nothing at all. But even as a simple cinematic
exercise, which may very well be, it is a fascinating and mesmerizing snapshot
of urban life.