By Prasanti Banerjee*
hey say “the art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters is simplicity.” And indeed, there is something mystic about simplicity. And watching “Walking Over Water” was a similar kind of experience for me. It was earthy and fresh. A child always gets stuck in between the never-ending quarrel of parents. This film is a very raw form presented the impact of two different ideologies on a growing mind and how certain irrational belief and philosophies is capable of dividing a family into two parts.
For a filmmaker father, it is almost like a battle to ascertain the fact that fiction is a part of reality and it is not a sin. Most importantly, cinema is not merely entertainment. One of the beautiful parts that made me emotional was how the bond of a family was blissful and not shaken before the teachings of the bible consumed them. This film questions our beliefs. In what is right and wrong, good and bad, moral, and sin? Things, places, people around us change. But what remains are the stories and how it was narrated. Speaking of which, Ozu though after growing up understood his father’s sentiments towards films but never argued with his mother to spare the clash of perspectives and broken dishes in his house.
Mahashweta Devi in her conversation with the filmmaker very simply said that she writes books because she is compelled to write. And just like any other artist the filmmaker too is compelled to make this film and time and time again he uses various metaphors like the construction of the bridge, NASA’s record and similar things as such to state that life is all about exploring new avenues. However, without support from family, the exploration becomes difficult for an artist. In every possible way, the director tries to reach his wife through metaphors and ‘in house’ dialogues and trying to break the ice. The unique part of the film was to keep the audience engrossed in every scene and giving them space and time to absorb the emotions of the scenes. The film interacts with the audience from the perspective of a filmmaker’s son who has grown up in a conservative religious atmosphere rebelling against cinema, which is quite an exceptional tale in itself.
Being a part of the film I understood bits about the narrative but not entirely. However, while watching the final film it was an extremely emotional experience as I could delve more closely into the sentiments of the narrator and experience the film through his vision. Ozu, being the shy person he is required to be brought out of the shell. And Joshy sir, rightly placed me and my dialogues to give him the push to be more candid about his viewpoints regarding his father as a filmmaker and films in general.
The best part about the working environment was the team who were certain about their job and helped me with dialogues and thus confidence. This film holds a special corner in my heart for two reasons- one being the distinctive concept and second, being the filmmaker. There is an almost negligible amount of film that truly justifies the way in which artists often deal with a shaky situation in the house that converts into the war zone. This factor is well reflected in the film with careful narration and presentation. And secondly, this is the story of a filmmaker who has been an enormous amount of inspiration and a Guru for me. Most importantly it was a great surprise for me during this lockdown period. Seeing in the film in the final avatar could not be a better gift in this critical pandemic situation.
*Prasanti Banerjee is an alumni of Visva Bharati and played the character of Prashanti di in the film “Walking Over Water” firstname.lastname@example.org