Recently, InFrame had the wonderful opportunity of conversing with the talented, actor-director Manahar Kumar about his working style, inspirations and artistic endeavours.
(You can read the excerpts here:
Further to our conversation, Manahar was kind enough to let us view his Georgia Film Festival Audience Award for Best Short Film winning film Stardust - a metaphorically rich 12-minute short that is bound to leave lasting impressions on you. So much so, a phone call, a drive or even a flight home might follow to tell your dear ones how much you love them, and just how much more you miss them.
I blurted out the words, ‘This feels like a hug..,’ right after watching the film written and directed by Manahar. For someone that consciously avoids discussing topics of death, Stardust came down on me like the first Chennai monsoon after a long summer—cleansing, and bittersweet at the same time.
Set mid-air, on what appears to be a long journey home, two strangers—Marium, a distressed young woman, and Muni, a poet, busy with his manuscript—dive into a non-judgemental and introspective conversation about each other’s lives. Marium reveals that she is currently grieving the death of her beloved Ābbu. Just as her phone’s clock strikes 4:44 she shows Muni a picture of her deceased father. Creating a moment of what I want to believe will be collective healing for the audience experiencing the film as the conversation unfolds, being the poet he is, Muni tells Marium (of her father) “He’s as close to you as your eyelashes.”
In Muni, I may have found an angel, a quiet blessing in disguise, a voice whispering that it’s OK to grieve, but that one would be better off grieving with the ropes untied, the knots undone when the time is right when one is ready. Through Muni’s troubled relationships with his father, Stardust comes as a reminder that death comes in many forms; in broken relationships, in lost love and fractured families. Instead of carrying overtly stated moments of preaching through dialogues on how an individual must experience loss, Stardust relies on implicit and beautifully understated acts through its characters to convey the idea. The final leg of this movie’s journey is intriguing and surprising, to say the least.
Stardust is a journey of love, as much as it is of loss. Stardust will make you hold your loved ones closer - in life and death.
Working on my thesis short, Stardust, I’ve amalgamated the intimate, life-changing loss of my mentor, my grandfather, an International aeroplane journey, and an undying curiosity with death.
The aeroplane journey with the real-life Marium (from Atlanta) put my grandfather’s death and my spiral into depression, in perspective, and lo and behold, Stardust was born.
The story talks about a person who just died and one person’s way of dealing with the immediacy of the situation.
The film isn’t about a grieving process, rather the moment of death
--- when one is confused, questioning, anxious and bottling up everything yet facing the world by putting up a facade that they’re “fine”, being engulfed with these emotions, all at once.
The story aims to remove the mask of “I have it all together.” The characters share a non-judgmental relationship that throws light on societal norms and grief that sometimes takes years to heal. We delve into philosophical questions through religion, culture and the best solution to any problem - stories.
In conclusion, the film is a reminder to myself and viewers that, “Death is not a full stop, it’s just a comma.”