‘Yours Truly’ is a Silent Lonely Voice, Screaming to Be Heard
Yesterday, a message popped up on my Whatsapp – How r u ? I stared at it for quite a few seconds wondering – how many precious moments would those four alphabets have robbed from the person’s life? But I am wrong.
So, when I chanced upon Sanjoy Nag’s Yours Truly, streaming on ZEE5, the familiar smell of letters filled me with hope that old is indeed gold. Based on Annie Zaidi’s short story, The One That Was Announced, this film is a quiet take on loneliness.
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A resident of Kolkata, Mithi Kumar (Soni Razdan) is a 57-year-old government employee on the verge of retirement. Days turn into nights, and nights into months, but Mithi’s lonely and mundane routine never changes. She wakes up in her old, ancestral home (the dilapidated condition of the house speaks volumes about Mithi’s long-lost urge to embrace anything new), cooks her own meals and then gets ready for the long and tiring commute to work.
Except, there’s something to look forward to at the railway station. The voice of the announcer. For Mithi, it is more than just a voice. In a life devoid of companionship, the voice carries with it a sense of comfort, support and care.
Mithi writes long letters addressed to ‘The Announcer.’ They never come back with replies – rather, she conjures the answers in her own head. The nameless, faceless man is her lover, and he is kind and caring. ‘Wear the cardigan’, ‘avoid the ticket-checker’ – he is always guiding her, to the right platform as well as to her desires. She imagines him being a tad bit jealous when he equates Dilip’s thela gadi (cycle rickshaw) to his arms – he carries you in his arms every day. She imagines making love to him at night and being looked after by him when she is down with fever.
Mithi’s hidden desires are a stark reminder of Ratna Pathak Shah’s character in Lipstick Under My Burkha.
Mithi is not alone in her loneliness. There’s her tenant Vijay (an impressive Pankaj Tripathi). Despite naming his pet soothsayer parrot Yudhistir or someone who always tells the truth, Vijay lies about being content in his marital life. His loud moans while making love to his wife give way to a lonely Diwali, where he sits alone in the verandah, drinking. And there’s Mithi’s sister Laali (Aahana Kumra), who believes in selfies and smartphones, never hesitates to talk about sex and periods, and uncorks her feelings with bottles of alcohol.
Whether Mithi ends up meeting her ‘announcer’ or not is up to you to find out, but she sure does find the most loyal and faithful companion – a dog.
Sanjoy Nag uses silence as a tool to help us understand Mithi better, and Soni Razdan embraces that silence. She is brave yet afraid, stoic yet vulnerable, lonely yet hopeful. It’s ironic that she starred as a young girl in Aparna Sen’s 36 Chowringhee Lane, a film about a lonely woman. Then there is Vinay Pathak’s dramatic voice as the announcer that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
Nag also brilliantly uses the unhurried pace of Kolkata and sharp contrasts to colour his story. On one hand, there’s the hustle and bustle of Durga Puja, Christmas and Diwali, on the other, lazy government employees engage in trivial conversations. Mithi’s days are spent gazing into the distance and Vijay takes his own sweet time to hang clothes. Then there are two incidents on the train. Mithi encounters a newly-wed couple and a corpse during her journeys – signifying a beginning and an end.
In a city like Mumbai, where life hangs by local trains and the din tires the soul, Yours Truly is the calm that needs to be felt.
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