The 30-min short film “Chuhedani” (Mousetrap), written and directed by Ravi Shankar Kaushik is quickly gathering consensus and kudos. After winning the First Place Narrative International Short Film Competition USA Film Festival, it has also been selected at the prestigious International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK Official), at The 18th Asian Film Festival of Dallas (AFFD) and finally, just recently at the Habitat Film Festival (HFF).
The film follows the capers of a disgraced country girl, Meena, who has neither voice nor power in her life. She’s been given as wife to the sleazy caretaker of an empty big house, who uses her as a domestic servant and sexual relief, alongside with the prostitutes he often visits.
If this wasn’t enough, one day the house owner comes back and his presence makes Meena’s husband stressed, frustrated and jealous too, as the girl’s beauty is not going unnoticed by the boss. Abused and exploited, Meena has reached rock bottom but she is a smart girl and from her invisible status she is planning her way out.
Many factors contribute to the pleasant experience of watching this movie. First of all, the narrative structure of “Chuhedani” is fluid and the pre-planted elements come together and fall in place effortlessly; with its deliciously evil twist, almost “a la Agatha Christie”, it is immensely regarding and empowering.
Moreover, the visual aspect is sophisticated and mature. Images are carefully composed and filmed from a series of interesting angles. Many shots have a frame within a frame; characters (especially Meena) are framed by smaller, internal shapes as well, through a door-frame or a mirror, from below, back or in corners of the frame, making the view compelling, interesting and very intimate. We have the feeling we are spying on Meena and tension raises. DOP Kuishresth Dhingra’s photography completes successfully the effect.
A mention also needs to go to the atmospheric score for strings, by composer Advait Nemlekar that creates an ancient fable mood and contributes to elevate the story from literal to an allegorical tale of redemption.
Mousetrap is a little gem; a very well constructed piece of work with great attention to details and very mature stylistic choices. Good luck to Ravi Shankar, I am already looking forward to his next step.