Directed by Suman Ghosh, the short film Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights is about the fight of an eighty year old retiree residing in Kolkata against the infamous Indian bureaucracy to make his part of the world a better place to live in. A former student of Presidency College, Kolkata, University of Delhi and Cornell University in Ithaca, Suman already underscored his skill in film direction with his debut feature Footsteps that was recognized as the Best Feature Film in Bengali in India’s National Film Festival back in 2008. With Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights as his fourth venture, Suman is more refined in his directorial skills than ever before.
The short film is about an octogenarian Shyamal Bhattacharya who resides in the central part of Kolkata and takes initiative to turn off the street lights that are often left illuminated during the day, even though there is an acute power shortage in the city. The film follows his journey and takes the audience through several previously unknown layers of the Indian society, carefully examining one after the other. The portrayal of Shyamal’s effort to make his world a better place and the happy ending of the film uphold the director’s optimism that small initiatives can make big differences.
It would not be improper to term the film as a moral lesson, though unlike many contemporary films of identical genre Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights retains the full essence of a commercial film, thus providing the audience all that is required for a light entertainment. In course of the film Shyamal emerges as a protagonist that all the developing nations are desperately in need of in order to make a deviation from the status quo. In fact, he is more a symbol than a person, carrying a ray of hope with him in a land where almost everyone, especially the bureaucracy, is indifferent to the efforts of a better life.
One may find a resemblance with Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Ikiru but Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights has an independent storyline set in a different world. The plot of the film was conceived by Suman himself who has always tried to tread into off the bitten track in film making. The film is a short glimpse of what people in developing countries face in their day to day life. It has been appreciated by many renowned film critics who have also opined that Sumaan is perfectly falling in line with Satyajit Ray’s legacy.
Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights has been produced by Arindam Ghosh and Colin Burrows and has won a number of awards including the award for Outstanding International Feature at the ReelWorld Film Festival in Totonto. The cinematography for the film has been done by four times National Award winner Ranjan Palit.
Trailer Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights
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