Direction: Avinash Arun
Actors: Archit Deodhar, Amruta Subhash
Avinash Arun's incredible debut film explores unusual themes delicately and expertly -- the frustration of not belonging, the search for home, the weight of loss, the frustrations of single-parenting.
After his father's death, 11-year-old Chinmay (played by Archit Deodhar) moves from Pune to a Konkan village with his mother (played by Amruta Subhash).
Arriving with aching grief for his lost parent and lost home, things takes a turn for the better when Chinmay finds a new group of friends and, after a rough incident, embarks on a journey at a deserted fort.
The killa is clearly a metaphor for Chinmay's mind -- abandoned, desolate, yet stoic in the face of a turbulent sea. The scene where he discovers and explores the fort is rendered in light and shadow, exquisite and unforgettable.
The mother-son equation is rendered beautifully too, with both characters locked in circumstance, unable to discuss their pain. How does a mother explain helplessness, or loneliness? How does a child find closure?
Instead of melodrama, these questions are explored through the nuances of finely crafted performance in Killa. There are no easy answers, just authentic and heartfelt emotion.
Among the elements that work best are the nostalgic throwbacks, to Chinmay's first cycle race, dips in a pool with friends, his first tiff with the group. It's easy to relate to these scenes because such moments are universal.
There's plenty of humour too, thanks to the well-cast goofballs playing Chinmay's friends.
The music, by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor, adds an additional tug to the heartstrings.
In one scene, Chinmay sets off in a boat, out to the vastness of the sea, letting his mind slowly still and take in the beauty before him. Viewers of Killa can expect a similar experience.
(This is a Marathi film also being screened with English subtitles.)