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Film Review: On Either Sides of the Pond (2022) by Parth Saurabh

On Either Sides of the Pond (2022) by Parth Saurabh
Contextually problematic, but impressive visually

It seems that the forced trend of the “quarantine film” will be “tormenting” us for some time still, with the movies that were shot during the lockdown periods still coming out. presents his own work in a film that moves beyond the majority of restraints of the period and had its world premiere at San Sebastian last year. 

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Amidst the Covid Lockdown, Sumit and Priyanka, an eloped couple, are back in their hometown due to the financial hardships caused. While Sumit looks for work, unsuccessfully, Priyanka suffocates in their dilapidated room, in the town that imprisoned her once. For Sumit, though, his celebrated return to his tribe of friends, is a reminder of carefree days. He falls into a life of wastefulness, while Priyanka contemplates a return to the cradle of her estranged father's home. As the town drowns in the monsoon, their relationship inches towards a tragic end.

Unfolding much like a stage play, probably due to the restrictions Covid brought, “On Either Sides of the Pond” progresses mostly through lengthy, dialogue-based scenes, which do succeed, though in analyzing the two main characters quite thoroughly. Sumit is evidently in his comfort zone, among friends who spend the days discussing whatever topic but mostly about the professional and financial issues they face. They also curse a lot, occasionally they fight, they smoke and do drugs and have a lot of laughs. Meanwhile, Priyanka feels more and more alone, as she realizes that her husband is essentially an immature teenager, even considering returning to a house that she abandoned when she eloped. That Sumit has no clue what is going on in her mind, despite her pleas that lead to frequent fights, highlight both the character of the two and the imbalance that dominates their relationship. 

Check also this interview

Although not exactly clear, and not exactly didactic or sanctimonious, there is a subtle comment about the mistake of the two to elope, and how essentially costs them their relationship, which could also be perceived as one for the lack of thinking from youths. Furthermore, Saurabh seems to also state that the lockdowns, apart from creating new issues, also showed pre-existing ones to the highest degree, particularly among couples who found themselves forced to look at themselves and their relationship. Somewhere between the lengthy discussions and heated fights however, the overall points Saurabh wanted to make get lost, with the film essentially emerging as one that was forcibly extended to feature length, in a script that seems more fit for a short. In that fashion, his own editing emerges as problematic. 

Despite these issues, however, the movie definitely thrives in terms of cinematography, with DP Pradeep Vignavelu proving a master of his art. His diversified framing in 4:3 ratio, the way he implements the depth of field, and in general the way he captures every single scene is exceptional to watch, in an effort that looks like a masterclass in cinematography. Add to the that the nice job in the coloring and lighting, and you have the best trait of the movie.

In terms of action, as Sumit presents his frustration and ignorance eloquently, although at times he seems that he is loud just for the sake of it. as Priyanka is much more measured, but still manages to be much more eloquent, in, evidently, the best performance in the film. 

“On Either Sides of the Pond” shows that Parth Saurabh knows his cinema in visual terms, but still needs to improve on script writing and editing, something that could easily come with his next movie, which will be without covid restrictions. 

About the author

Panos Kotzathanasis

Panagiotis (Panos) Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer, specialized in Asian Cinema. He is the owner and administrator of Asian Movie Pulse, one of the biggest portals dealing with Asian cinema. He is a frequent writer in Hancinema, Taste of Cinema, and his texts can be found in a number of other publications including SIRP in Estonia, Film.sk in Slovakia, Asian Dialogue in the UK, Cinefil in Japan and Filmbuff in India.

Since 2019, he cooperates with Thessaloniki Cinematheque in Greece, curating various tributes to Asian cinema. He has participated, with video recordings and text, on a number of Asian movie releases, for Spectrum, Dekanalog and Error 4444. He has taken part as an expert on the Erasmus+ program, “Asian Cinema Education”, on the Asian Cinema Education International Journalism and Film Criticism Course.

Apart from a member of FIPRESCI and the Greek Cinema Critics Association, he is also a member of NETPAC, the Hellenic Film Academy and the Online Film Critics Association.

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