wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

An indie effort, a 4-year long effort. An effort by a group of debutantes. And what we have is a good film which talks about obsessed beyond reason, a mania that sees no necessity for reason. Yes, it gets abstract, yet it stays very well within grasp as it points at and makes us think about our own obsessions.

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Director: Karan Gour
Running time: 90 minutes
Genres: Noir, Social
More Movie Info

Do you remember the days from when you were younger, when you went crazy about something or the other? Trading cards, dolls, a cricketer, a film star, a fellow classmate? Through most of Kshay, Chhai's (Rasika Dugal) obsession with Goddess Laxmi made me think of her as that obsessed child. One who would claim, "you don't understand!" to anyone who tried to talk him out of that mania which he thought was perfectly valid. And slowly you see a few adults you know in Chhai's eyes. Their obsession might be different money, power or fame - but the similarity is stark. And while you realize it is counter-productive if not shallow, they don't give up. Kshay is a story that symbolizes exactly that.

The parallel doesn't stop there. The irony, that to please Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth - even though she's not asking for it - requires money, never leaves you. Also, Kshay's fixation with people who are fixated for only one thing and none else is shown through the black and white palate, like no other color exists for them, like life has no other shades.

Though the same cannot be said about its charactes. Chhai, her husband Arvind, their neighbor Shruti - all are varying shades of gray. They are real, they reach out to you, and you worry for them however tiny their role be.

The villain is surely stark black, but then again he is representing the concretized brutality of the business world, this once the construction business. Arvind on the other hand is the perfect example of the guy chasing a dream, one who looks so tired from the chasing that he's willing to accept a compromise, were there someone making an offer.

Yet, there are some dots in the script that seem like they don't connect and I it is indeed perplexing. But, if you allow yourself to accept Chhai's fanaticism, you realize that in her world the connection makes perfect sense. Or greater still, her world requires no connection. But, even if she is visibly mentally disturbed, she is supposed to resemble us and our own obsession.

Therein lies my only but biggish problem with Kshay. It is not because Kshay can disengage you in the first few minutes with its non-standard and thus absurd sounds and overt attempt at being abstract. It is this niggling feeling that I have with most films that fall in this realm, why do they go that extra length to make the audience figure out the point of the film. I'm not saying you should spoon-feed us, but why do you have to go out of your way to make a simple objective look something more intellectual than it ultimately is. Isn't there a gray between the black and white?

The good news though is that once I accept that that is the route Kshay has taken, it is an engaging film. A film that certainly should be lauded as an indie project that saw light after four years of effort by a group of debutantes.

- meeta, a part of the audience

11 reviewers(?) - 9 yays 1 so-so 1 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Pooja Rao, Bolly Spice : ...The movie has a tight agenda and hits home with it. There is no dilly-dallying, poking around in sub-plots. There’s no doing that sort of thing, but Karan instead chooses to narrate the haunting story of obsession with pokerfaced precision and bouts of sublime humor.... full review

Thumbs up, by Haricharan Pudipeddi, Desi Martini : ...In one line; Kshay is a masterly executed one of its kind psychological thriller.... full review

Thumbs up, by Deepa Depsthalee, Film Impressions : ...If the narrative was even tighter, we may have actually been left with no room to think or breathe—making us one with Chhaya's neurosis. At 92 minutes, Kshay is perhaps 15 minutes too long, and that's its only drawback. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Shakti Shetty, IBN Live : ...Married to the black and white ambiance of the film is the gripping background score. The monochrome nature of Kshay gnaws deep into the sketches Rasika’s role often draws. And the sound effects keep you connected to the rising tension... full review

Thumbs up, by Karan Anshuman, Mumbai Mirror : ...Kshay is not for everyone and requires patience and some exposure to alternate cinema to appreciate. You’ve to wait for the characters to invite you into their world and their psyche and you cannot be munching popcorn through it. If you allow it, Kshay will indulge you in a way few films can... full review

Thumbs up, by Namrata Joshi, Outlook India : ...At times languid, at others corrosive, or terrifying, Kshay is about feel and texture. Quite simply the year’s most ingenious and exciting Hindi film so far... full review

Thumbs up, by Aseem Chabra, Rediff : ...Much of Kshay explores Chhaya's psychological decline, but the film is so engaging that it is hard to take one's eyes off the screen. There is a gun, blood, violence, disturbing imagery, a tragedy, but Kshay manages to stay above the standard thrillers... full review

Thumbs up, by Sudhish Kamath, The Hindu : ...The filmmaker manages to compensate for the indie trappings (the lack of budget shows) with reasonably engaging performances by the cast ... full review

Thumbs up, Zee News : ...It is a film which despite its flaws, not only manages to hold its own, but in moments shines.... full review

So-So, Movie Talkies : ...Though the storyline is interesting and there is potential for making the movie a first class psychological thriller, the director seems to fumble trying to be too experimental at times.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mansha Rastogi , Now Running.com : ...Kshay may work only with the film afficianados and intellectuals and may find difficult to find takers in the commercial space. ... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

Chhai (Rasika Dugal) wants to own a sculpture of Goddess Laxmi, but its beyond her means.

What Worked

  • Shruti's (Chhai's neighbor) reaction to Chhai's eccentricities
  • The scene where Arvind (Chhai's husband) crosses the road to get to his boss' office - beautifully shot.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • The fact that an artist the callibre of Chhai doesn't measure the space within which she is supposed to finish her drawing.
  • The background music in the end credits

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Self-infliction of injuries. Gets gory even in black and white because of the implied brutality and sound effects.
  • Language: A few abusive languages
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A husband trying to get his wife in the mood.
  • Concept: The craziness of obsession - an exaggerated example used to illustrate the many common obsessions we see around us.
  • General Look and Feel: Black and white. Grainy and grim.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:

Kshay - Cast, crew, links

Running time:
90 minutes

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