Labels certainly matter, and Shakespeare’s adage (What’s in a name?) is about to be proven wrong. Allow me to explain. With names like Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey, Gulshan Devaiah, Tillotame Shome, Tanuja, Om Puri as the cast, and with direction by Konkona Sen Sharma, I dare you to not be curious about the film A Death in the Gunj.
Konkona Sen Sharma has largely been known as a (stellar) actor and has previously directed only a short film, titled Naamkaran.
A Death in the Gunj, however, immediately catches your attention, and a large part of that is because it doesn’t not take its viewers for granted; no zooming close-ups, no sleazy angles, no clap-worthy dialogues said with an extra peppering of bass — basically, no superficiality. It jumps right into the setting: the quiet town McCluskiegunj in Jharkand, in 1979.
A minute into the trailer you realise the film is a murder mystery, and it’s a refreshing change to be able to work your way through myriad characters, and beautiful visuals to understand the plot of the film.
A Death in the Gunj unfolds over a span of seven days and it’s the story of a family from Kolkata visiting parents settled in McCluskiegunj. Based on true events, the film scopes how a murder occurs under the nose of this large family, while the youngsters (Kalki, Ranvir, Tillotame, Gulshan and Vikram) are busy playing drinking games and fooling around. Shuntu (Vikram Massey, possibly the protagonist) also develops a beautiful friendship with his younger cousin, which forms the base of the narrative.
The film will have its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The one feeling you’re left with after watching the trailer of A Death in the Gunj is that despite its reception, it’s high time we have films like these representing Indian cinema abroad.
Konkona Sen Sharma’s feature debut shares its stage with films like The Magnificient Seven, American Beauty, Snowden and La La Land.
Watch the trailer here: