India / 24½ minutes / bw with color (mainly red) highlighting / Incendiary Dir & Cine: Raj Sampad Pr & Story: Shilpi Sampad Cast: Nikkie Gargi, Debi Prasad Sahu, Nisha Kabi.
The Girl in Red (Nikkie Gargi).
A short neonoirish movie with considerable visual style and flair, made and set in Bhubaneswar, capital of the Indian state of Odisha.
The Girl in Red (Gargi), a beautiful but seemingly somewhat shallow young woman who lives on her own in an apartment in a rather isolated building, is being stalked by a sinister man whom she dubs Mr. Freakshow (Sahu) when describing her fears of him to her Friend (Kabi). In due course she and The Friend become sufficiently creeped out about what’s going on (“Remember what happened to Chitra the other day”) that she reluctantly borrows a gun lent by The Friend’s boyfriend. In due course, one evening Mr. Freakshow accosts her when there’s no one around; she pulls the gun from her purse and shoots him in the gut.
“Mr. Freakshow” (Debi Prasad Sahu).
The Girl in Red (Nikkie Gargi) loses her nerve and fires the fatal shot.
Later, haunted by what she’s done, she listlessly leafs through the local newspaper and discovers what careful viewers have already essentially deduced: that the man she killed was no serial killer but a promising young director of often erotic movies, Joseph Paul, and that he’d been hunting for his new star. As she collapses to her knees, we don’t know if the tragedy she’s weeping about is the death of a (relatively) innocent man or the loss of what might have been her big break.
The Girl in Red (Nikkie Gargi) discovers the awful truth. (The makers could perhaps have worked harder on the dummy newspaper page!)
For the most part this is really skillfully made, and the deft use of color highlighting makes many of the frames almost artworks in themselves; also of note is a particularly nice example of split-screen work at the start. The sound recording leaves something to be desired, though—Gargi briefly sings a song that sounds as though it was recorded in a hotel bathroom—and, though the dialogue’s in English, the combination of the fairly pronounced accents and the somewhat muddy sound has made the director see fit to add subtitles.
The Friend (Nisha Kabi).
While both the actresses possess great charm, the standout performance comes from Sahu, who manages almost to convince us that perhaps he is the serial killer The Girl in Red thinks he might be, even though we know that he’s not.
This is a movie that’s minor, but well worth a watch: as I say, it’s visually a delight. It’s to be hoped that director Raj Sampad will have the opportunity to start making bigger-budget items at some stage.
Joseph Paul’s screen saver.