Victoria’s Secret-a quiet little Pakistani film

 A Review by Divya Raina

 

A still from the film

Almost overlooked by the fanfare over Ramchand Pakistani, the other Pakistani film screened at the recently concluded Osian film festival did not arouse much media hype or even much attention from the delegates; Audi 3, where it was screened was practically empty apart from a smattering of students, film buffs and foreigners. This amounted to nothing, as compared to the virtual stampede and endless traffic jams on the closing night of the festival for Mumbai Cutting.

Victoria’s Secret is a loose adaptation of a short-story by Rohinton Mistry, and it has what can only be called a literary flavour-it takes its time to tell its tale, but there is emphasis here on developing characterization , plot and theme without a frenetic editing rhythm, or in- your-face editing and unusual angles. It does not aim to shock or impress, either by a bold theme or its content matter. This is not a film where people are shot at, bombs explode, nor do various visual motifs draw attention to themselves.

It holds one’s attention nevertheless, and though it is a low budget film it augurs well for the future of Pakistani cinema and the talented actors and directors. Its strong point of course is that it unfolds gradually giving the audience space and time to reflect on the various situations portrayed; the dialogue is as close as possible to regular day- to –day spoken parlance.

What is truly wonderful about this film and very appealing is the manner in which human relationships are depicted-these cut across gender and age barriers. The boy who is shy, reticent and introverted “opens up” with great difficulty to a man who could be his grandfather but who is able to empathize and connect to the pain and loneliness of the boy. With superb acting and wonderfully warm and moving scenes, which never become syrupy or sentimental one observes how the relationship develops with the stamp becoming a metaphor of hope; the “Victoria” stamp that is the old man’s prizes possession, and the boy’s overwhelming desire to win both his approval and the stamp.

Moreover the relationship between the boy and his mother is also depicted with restraint; a lot being conveyed without a lot being spoken. The manner in which she conducts her relationship with her new lover is also one of the few I have seen on the screen which has not been over-dramatized or made melodramatic, both have a believable quality about them, these seem real people facing very real dilemmas and that is the beauty of this film and where it breaks new ground.

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