Published: 19th January 2021
This film by alumni of SRFTI sparks conversations around active euthanasia and death
An Irrelevant Dialogue is a film about an elderly couple who wants to decide when they will depart to the humble abode and they have written to the President of India regarding the same. Read on...
The only sure-shot aspect of life is death. Yet, dignity is not part of the bargain. Whether old age confines your sores-ridden body to a bed long before you meet your Maker or it's a life cut short with death delivered swiftly, there is no guarantee of dignity. So why live beyond the age of 75 when all you will be reduced to is a bag of bones with a soul that is restless to leave its cage? Such is the flow of thought of Shankar and Ila Bagchi in the short film An Irrelevant Dialogue. They believe that death is their birthright and that they shall have it, even if it means writing to the President of India. The director of this 30-minute film Moinak Guho has based it on real-life Mumbai couple Narayan and Iravati Lavate. Though this is his Diploma film that he completed in March 2019, since last year, this sombre tale has been doing the rounds at many festivals including the 39th Filmschool Fest Munich, Arthouse Asia Film Festival and Nottingham Arts Mela. And now, we hear that it will be a crest jewel at the Imagineindia Film Festival in Madrid this year.
Moinak | (Pic: Moinak Guho)
It was only after working as an Aircraft Engineer for about six years that Moinak decided that he wanted to weave magic on screen. It was while pursuing his Diploma in Direction and Screenwriting from the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata that he made An Irrelevant Dialogue. A newspaper report alerted him to the tale of Mr and Mrs Lavate and after writing a story inspired by their journey, he shot the film in a typical old North Kolkata house in the crowded locales of Raja Bazar. "I wanted a certain mood for the space, it needed to reflect boredom and decay. And a lot of work has gone behind the production design, so much so that an hour was invested before every shot was taken," says the 34-year-old. That's where the polish of the film, which has about 38 to 40 shots, comes from.
In 2016, he directed Beneath the Bud, about the state of workers in tea estates, and Shunyosthan, about a guilt-ridden postman who treads down the wrong path
Thus, An Irrelevant Dialogue became a story about elderly octogenarians Shankar and Ila Bagchi who are childless and fearful of being a burden on their relatives. "What I wanted to do was show what they were experiencing, what they do in their day-to-day lives as they wait for time to pass them by," says the filmmaker. And though he had the chance to meet Mr and Mrs Lavate only after the film was released, he based the Bagchis on all the news reports and video interviews of the Lavates that he went through thoroughly. "I discovered that Mr Lavate is very modern in his thoughts," he tells us.
Moinak feels that active euthanasia is a choice that, no doubt, does raise several ethical questions and leaves scope for misuse. "I did not want to get into the legalities of the matter. I just wanted to make the issue a mainstream conversation because frankly, death is the only truth there is," he says and concludes.
Behind the scenes | (Pic: Moinak Guho)
Euthanasia laws in India
- From March 2018, passive euthanasia became legal in India, but only under strict guidelines
- The patient's consent must be available through a living will
- They should be in a terminally ill condition or in a vegetative state
For more on it, check out facebook.com/anirrelevantdialogue