Inkblot Knits Together the Real and the Imaginary

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Vedanti Dani’s Inkblot was one of the several movies that was screened virtually at the recent Film Bazaar, organised by the National Film Development Corporation.

Inkblot took me back to 2003 Cannes, where I saw the renowned French helmer Francois Ozon’s Swimming Pool with the British actress, Charlotte Rampling, playing crime novelist Sarah Morton, with French star Ludivine Sagnier as the young, impulsive and sexually provocative Julie.

(When the work was released in India, I saw only a skeleton of it; it was heavily censored!)

When Morton faces a writer’s block, her well-meaning publisher asks her to take a break at his country home in France. After Morton settles down there with her laptop computer, hoping for peace and quiet that may get her out of the predicament, in walks Julie, the publisher’s daughter. The young girl is rebellious and invites her boyfriends home, and the kind of noise and din they make unnerves Morton. And so goes the story twisting and turning, and finally hitting a crime. The end is ambiguous. Did Julie really arrive at the country home? Was she the publisher’s daughter? Or were all these what Morton imagined and wrote in her new novel.

In a way, Inkblot follows a similar trajectory. Writer Sara’s (Mina Boshkan) publisher wants a thriller from her, and asks her to experience something eerie so that she would find inspiration. So, much like Morton, Sara is also packed off – not to tranquil place, but a lonely haunted house in the middle of nowhere. At the palatial mansion, the housekeeper (looks like housekeeper Mrs Danvers from Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca) advises Sara not to step on to the first floor. “We have company here” she (Nazneen Madan) cautions Sara.

But the young author, who has come away after an argument with her boyfriend, is not to be cowed down by the fear of the supernatural, and she converts a room as her study on the forbidden floor and begins to write, hoping to be so scared that words would flow out of her head to form an eerily gripping plot.

Inkblot is a short work of 61 minutes, but offers all the excitement one may associate with this genre. Much like the Swimming Pool, here in Inkblot too, we come away wondering whether Sara had really gone through the frightening experience. Or was it a figment of her imagination?

Although Ozon does give us some kind of closure, Inkblot has an open-ended climax – which I felt was good. It is always nice to leave a viewer with something to ponder over, maybe even have a debate in his or her head.

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