I’ll be honest. I had very high hopes for Prashant Bhargava’s film Patang, and I was let down. Don’t get me wrong; this film was great. It’s just that I had expected something else. Bhargava explained during the HIFF closing press conference that 90% of the people in his film weren’t actors, but ordinary people. He thought that would make the film more real and honest, and it’s true. Although he says this is considered a big mistake in filmmaking, I thought it worked out just fine for him because it was nice to see people being natural and being themselves.
He also told us that he only showed 3 people the script, allowing everyone else to do as they pleased. I wonder if this is where he made the mistake. In not letting people see the script, the film took its own course… and ended up losing direction. At least that’s how I felt. After a while, I started to lose interest. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to like this film. I really did! But his style of developing the story just didn’t appeal to me. He revealed the big issue/climax one hour into the film. I’m fine with the delay, I suppose. But what made it worse is that he didn’t even expand upon the issues. Sure, there was a bit of a conflict between the main character and his nephew, but there could have been more dialogue between them. I guess I just feel like the film was missing something. It had so much potential and so many interesting things happening, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.
Bhargava said that he knows his film won’t really appeal to American audiences; he did this film for India, for his people. He said he didn’t want to make another Slumdog Millionaire 2 or some Bollywood film. He wanted to produce something Indian people could be proud of. The film was highly praised when it premiered in India, so he must have done something right.
Although I didn’t care for his story development techniques, I did like the way he shot the film. It had great lighting, great angles, all that stuff. The way they captured everyone’s emotions, the kites in the sky, and the kites falling to the ground was just perfect. I especially liked the way he shot a kissing scene toward the end of the movie. Usually in movies, when a couple kisses, the camera will either be focused on them (resulting in awkward moments between you and whoever you’re watching the film with) or it’ll pan to the side and fade to black (which is pretty corny). However, they shot this scene at night, when fireworks were going off. The two characters were sitting on a roof, while the female leaned over to face the male. As she did so, she blocked the light, so that you couldn’t see her. All you could see was his face, which slowly turned to black as she kissed him. The scene showed a kiss without actually showing a kiss. It wasn’t corny or anything, and that’s why I liked it. It was beautifully shot, and somewhat understated in a way.
I think that’s the whole point of this movie. Everything is very understated and somewhat implied. It’s up to you to piece things together. This film may not appeal to everyone, but if you decide to see it, I suggest you do so with an open mind. It is a beautiful film; I just didn’t care for the way the story was played out.