Frustration is a sensation that’s felt at sure factors by every one of the three key characters in “The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs” and it’s one which can even be skilled by most individuals watching it. Pushpendra Singh’s movie is actually not missing for ambition—at numerous occasions, it veers between folklore, fable, feminism, and metaphorical commentary and the turbulent historical past of the province of Jammu and Kashmir the place the story is ready—and it has a variety of particular person moments and parts which are undeniably placing. The difficulty is that whereas many of those bits and items are sometimes fascinating, they by no means fairly pull collectively into a very compelling or satisfying narrative.
The movie, which relies on a brief story by Vijaydan Detha and likewise takes inspiration from the works of 14th-century poetess Lalleshwari, begins when Tanvir (Sadakkit Bijran), a nomadic shepherd touring by the Kashmir area, is obsessed with lovely native Laila (Navjot Randawa). He asks the elders for her hand in marriage after the present process a ritual involving lifting a number of giant rocks. Laila, it must be famous, just isn’t precisely thrilled about marrying him however does not likely have any say within the matter. The 2 are quickly wed and Laila is compelled to depart her own residence for a settlement on the base of the Himalayan mountains the place she begins her duties as Tanvir’s bride.
As a result of Tanvir and the opposite members of his tribe wouldn’t have the correct paperwork, they arouse the suspicions of the Indian police, who start visiting their encampment fairly often. One officer, Mushtaq (Shahnawaz Bhat), additionally falls hopelessly in love with Laila, although she desires nothing to do with him both, even going as far as to smack around a colleague of his who additionally makes his romantic intentions in direction of her recognized. Borne out of equal elements boredom and resentment about being the article of want for 2 individuals she doesn’t look after, Laila begins to torment Mushtaq by arranging for late-night rendezvouses after which determining methods to have the unsuspecting Tanvir accompany her to the conferences, forcing Mushtaq to create elaborate ruses to clarify why he simply occurs to be hanging around Tanvir’s barn amid the sheep at midnight. Because the bait-and-switches proceed, it quickly turns into obvious—although evidently to not Tanvir or Mushtaq—that Laila is utilizing the unacknowledged energy she has over the 2 as a technique to hopefully achieve her final freedom from them.
That is all type of attention-grabbing to a degree however after some time, “The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs” begins to expire of steam. Singh is attempting to do so much right here however the central story just isn’t that robust and can’t fairly bear the burden of the feminist and political allegory that has been loaded on prime of it. A giant part of the issue is that it by no means actually manages to determine Laila as a compelling character in her personal proper. Sure, Randawa is gorgeous and has a pure sense of display screen charisma, however, there may be a treasured little about Laila that we see that explains why everyone seems to be so pushed to distraction by her. And for the reason that movie doesn’t actually make the case for her as a person trapped in circumstances, not of her making, it’s due to this fact exhausting for the viewers to have a lot of a rooting curiosity in whether or not she is ready to break free from these constraints or not. That is particularly evident within the closing moments that merely don’t hit as exhausting as Singh clearly hoped as a result of we have now little emotional involvement in what is occurring.
At a similar time, whereas the movie as an entire didn’t fairly work for me, there is a selection of issues I did get pleasure from. The cinematography by Ranabir Das is appropriately spectacular; it imposes a way of thriller and ambiance to the proceedings and attracts you in than the storytelling. The part during which Laila subverts her supposedly clandestine conferences with Mushtaq by bringing an unsuspecting Tanvir alongside is humorous and impressive sufficient to let you overlook the truth that you might be basically watching the identical joke being replayed quite a few occasions. And whereas it doesn’t fairly repay by way of its dramatic energy, the ultimate moments are certainly fairly spectacular, the type of sequence that Werner Herzog would have been proud to drag off.
However, whereas I suppose I’m glad that I noticed it on some elementary stage—within the sense that I’m all the time glad to see movies that provide me a glimpse into lands and cultures unfamiliar to me—I can’t fairly deliver myself to advocate “The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs.” Here’s a movie that’s too distant and reserved for its personal good.