Ek Pyaali Jannat
Producer/Director: Neha Kaul
Ek Pyaali Jannat transfers a poem by Mirza Ghalib, the great nineteenth-century poet of Delhi, onto the visual tapestry of present-day Mumbai as seen through the eyes of one of the many dreamers who wander the streets of the city. The relationship between the drifting protagonist and his universe is presented through the metaphor of the milky sweet tea, or chai, that is brewed on every street corner.
A cup of chai is synonymous with taking a break from the day’s rush, stopping to look at the world, finding comfort in a sip of something freshly brewed and soothing. As expressed by the film’s suggestive stop-motion photography and recurring musical motif, the protagonist is in need of many moments of escape and release on his interrupted journey through life. The camera records his face thinking, puzzling, and dreaming, even as he seems to be measuring how many sips of tea he has left in his glass before it is time to move on and away.
Yet it appears, from the way that he himself sometimes stops to frame the world with his hands that he himself is a photographer, able to imagine himself too as framed against the city’s teeming and visually saturated scenes. Its floating, digressive visual style counterpointed by the strong rhythms of verse, Ek Pyaali Jannat is an evocation – about as long as the experience of a good cup of tea – of all those moments of contemplation and reverie that make up the secret music of a life.
Text by Chandrahas Choudhury