Directed by Aneek Chaudhuri
Starring Susmit Bose and Aneek Chaudhuri
Documentary Film Review by Daniel Reason
The level of admiration that Aneek Chaudhuri has for Susmit Bose is made clear in his documentary about the aforementioned Urban-Folk music singer. Chaudhuri aims to bring insight into his life and bring to light just how influential he was in that music genre, despite many being unfamiliar of his work. By exploring the difference between the Indian folk music of Susmit Bose and that of artists from the Western culture, specifically Bob Dylan, Chaudhuri brings a lot of background into Bose’s life.
As previously mentioned, the level of detail that Chaudhuri goes in search for has to be respected. By the conclusion, you truly feel like you have gained a great understand into Bose. His life, influences and upbringing are described well, so his life is the primary focus of the documentary.
However, it is rather unfortunate how unsuccessful this is as a documentary, as it doesn’t contain the necessary ingredients that it requires, especially when it’s based upon a person that a lot of people may not know too much about, if anything. Perhaps the biggest issue is demonstrated in its run time – it’s approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes long. There are moments where you can’t help but be baffled by some of the scenes that are included. Rhythm is very important to a documentary as the information needs to be delivered in both a detailed and well-paced manner in order to prevent the drag of some scenes. When it is telling the story of an individual, why are shots of chickens and grass included? One could argue that it is to set the scene and give a clear understanding of the differentiating environment of India vs the West, e.g. the UK and US, but there is no reason for those shots to continue throughout. The editing, also, is rather perplexing. Often the text on screen would be a certain colour, but would be hard to see over the background – white text over a bright background, for example. The subtitles seem to lag behind the audio, meaning that there will reach a point in a translated discussion where it is unclear who’s dialogue it belongs to. Additionally, when there is a discussion taking place, there isn’t an introductory title or name on screen for those people, so you have no idea who they are or what relation they are to Bose, excluding the interview with his son. Another recurring element is long scenes of music. Of course, you want the audience to hear his music, and understand the appreciation for it, but when some of these scenes last for over 3 minutes, the level of focus within the viewer may deteriorate. Furthermore, there isn’t a transition into any deeper themes or things that have happened in Bose’s life, instead it continues to tell us more and more about his love for music, consequently resulting specific pieces of information being repeated and over discussed.
While the clear admiration that Chaudhuri has for Susmit Bose and his music is clear, the documentary raises more questions about the way it was put together rather than the context that is being explored. This is an instance where it could be improved greatly by cutting the right time significantly, which would allow for a much more suitable pacing, and that would in turn improve the quality of this documentary.