Garbage (2018) * * | Berlinale 2018 | Panorama
Dir: Qaushiq Mukherjee | Cast: Tanmay Dhanania, Trimala Adhikari, Satarupa Das, Gitanjali Dang, Shruti Viswan, Satchit Puranik | Drama | India | 105′ | World premiere
Bengali director Q, best known for Gandu, pushes forward a punishing political and societal agenda in this narratively slack but stylishly filmic story of exploitative hatred in a lush paradise of Goa.
Drugged by its own breath-taking beauty this is a lurid thriller full of livid anger and pain revolving around two women who are humiliated by men, and then get their revenge. We are made to feel nothing for these empty characters, they exist merely to represent Q’s hatred of social media, right wing politics, religious extremism and pretty much everything else. GARBAGE has us believe that in contemporary India all relationships are exploitative and nobody wins in the end; although the finale provides a cinematically sickening masculine takedown. GARBAGE is another sorrowful snapshot of strife from a nation where female status lags far behind male, despite burgeoning economic growth and rapid technological advancements. But the saddest character is actually a submissive and sexually-repressed taxi-driver Phanishwar (the sultry sylph-like Tanmay Dhanania) who keeps a female maid (Satarupta Das) chained to his kitchen wall. He doesn’t abuse her sexually, as he’s impotent due to testicular cancer and more preoccupied with pleasuring his own master, the religious extremist guru Baba (Satchit Puranik) whose radical rants he promotes on social media, where he also salivates over salacious porn videos. One of these features Rami (Trimala Adhikari), who by a strange coincidence gets into his taxi the following day. A deja-vue moment leads Phanishwar to obsess about having sex with her, but he’s too low on self-esteem to manage it. But Rami (Trimala Adhirkari) is having none of his lust. Being a victim to revenge porn is not what she has in mind as a highly savvy medic, but she doesn’t shy away from a lesbian love-in with the alluring Simone (Gitanjali Dang). Lakshman Chandra Anand is a real wizard behind the camera creating some impressive scenes in lush tropical landscapes with expert precision. Sadly his images are wasted on this empty vessel of style over substance. Q has a great team behind him and some laudable thematic pretensions, but his angry bile makes this a toxic experience, poisoning a picture that could been impressive in the right hands. MT
BERLINALE 15-25 FEBRUARY | PANORAMA