Friday, February 25, 2022

Ghost of the Golden Groves


Ghost of the Golden Groves
Aniket Dutta, Roshni Sen

When I was going into Ghost of the Golden Groves, I have some preconceived notions about what I was going to see based on other Indian genre films; something steeped in supernatural traditions of India, musical numbers, a very strong delineation of gender roles that feeds into a romantic subplot. Not all, but some of these elements certainly do exist in Ghost of Golden Groves but how they are presented is much different than what I expected. 

"I can't believe we all wore the same thing
to this party. So embarrassing."


Ghost of the Golden Groves is split into two stories both set in the Shonajhuri forest. The first story, The Polymorph, a man named Pomotho (Joyraj Bhattacharya) travels to the forest to find a new home. Along the way he encounters a man claiming to be a polymorph who offers to show him a magic act. Pomotho agrees, but it is not what he expects. The second story is called Maya, and tells the story of a cook (Soumyajit Majumdar) who ends up taking care of the house of an older man while he is away. At night, the cook has strange colorful dreams of people wearing breathing masks and engaging in unusual tasks.

Ghost of the Golden Groves is mostly presented in a shockingly beautiful hi contrast black and white image. It often gives us shots of our two leads walking through a visually dense jungle that threatens to consume them. The film’s use of color is designed to produce maximum impact, it is a shock to the eyes. The vibrant colors indicate that something truly unusual is occurring. This isn’t a film that is interested explaining much through dialog but instead invests all its power in its visuals. It is a calculated risk but one the film handles with incredible skill


"Who wants to probe him first?"

Ghost of the Gold Groves carries with it a gentle humor, it almost feels like a travelogue of rural south Asia. This gentle atmosphere grows more and more sinister in the first story, which is by far the more ‘horror’ of the two, and turns legitimately unnerving as it reaches its climax. The second story is a mirror image of the first  image in many ways, opening on an eerie atmosphere that gradually becomes something more charming than frightening.

Ghost of the Golden Groves is just marvelous and so unlike anything in Western cinema. It’s spooky, funny, touching, and filled with mystery. I see numerous other reviews calling it challenging viewing, but I would disagree with statement. The visual language and structure of the film is very accessible and while it might not follow the standard structure of a film made by Westerners, the things it says are  universal and presented in a way that brings the joy of what cinema can be.

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