Dasein is one of the most incoherent films I’ve ever seen; which is exactly what you might expect from a non-linear surrealist film. I became somewhat ill at ease with my inability to keep up with the random roulette of scenic vignettes that somehow come together if you’re paying any attention at all. Dasein is an experimental metamodern film project from Director Shailik Bhaumik. In an examination of the meaning of life, Dasein is the story of Aniket, (Sumanta Mukherjee) an artist growing up in India.
“If then, you have lived in despair, then whatever else you won or lost, for you everything is lost, eternity does not acknowledge you, it never knew you, or still more dreadful, it knows you as you are known, it manacles you to yourself in despair.” – Soren Kierkegaard
As a young boy Aniket discovers his mother has hung herself. Being his only companion and role model, his dependence on her and the comfort she provided is essentially stripped away. Growing up virtually as an orphan since his father was always away on business, he developed his own system of values and perceptions at an early age.
As a young adult his father remarries a much younger woman (Anu Chatterjee) which only adds to his artistic angst as his resolve is challenged by the lonely Anu. The outcome is not pleasant as it threatens his spiritual commitment to Hrittika, (Manisha Chakravorty) his current girlfriend from college. Another harsh emotional blow comes when Hrittika, the love of his life, the woman who promised to never leave him – leaves him. The final coup de grâce comes when a fellow art student and friend Ipshita, (Ipshita Samanta) steals his concept and takes First Place in a very prestigious art competition.
This is the last straw for Aniket and in his desperate attempt to claim any victory at all over his own existence; he commits suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills. Only when he feels closer to death is he able to take control of his destiny and win his emancipation from an otherwise dystopian life of false pretense, misguided desires and emotional pain.
Aniket’s destiny being written for him as a young boy.
Not necessarily in that order, Director Shailik Bhaumik connects his three dimensions with beautifully atmospheric; monochromatic dream sequences and intermittent segments produced with the sexy and stylish flair reminiscent of international pop music videos. The music track was a nice mix of contemporary Heavy Metal, Pop and traditional Indian music; very multicultural, very metamodern.
REFLECTIONS OF METAMODERNISM IN INDIAN FILMMAKING
Foreign films require a bit of discipline to watch, especially if you have to rely on subtitles and if the subtitles are white, much of the text disappears into the lighter shades of the scene behind it. Add to that a minimal amount of surrealism and it becomes even more of a challenge to follow.
The scenes that moved me the most were the ones with very little or no dialogue; when the director truly exhibits the intensity of the characters’ feelings through their silence; just body language and the poetry of the music. Like romanticism in a static work of visual art, it always delivers an active, moving narrative to the viewer’s mind’s eye.
Dasein means literally “being there”. Man’s place in the world, his existential being becomes the focus over, “I think, therefore I am”. We exist because we take up physical space regardless of our mental abstractions. We affect the material world around us and the materialism of pop-culture and institutionalized thought is what we spend our lives either resisting or complying to.
Because of the nonlinear nature; abrupt scene changes and time displacement, I felt akin to the protagonist as he randomly watched significant periods of his life dance in and out of his own semi-conscious state. Like in our dreams, the scenes change randomly. Time and space have no relevance. And through it all, the final lesson comes in the realization that regardless of our spiritual beliefs; reflections of the past or our longing for the future, we can only exist and experience life to its fullest in the present moment of our being.
“In this film we tell a very common story in an very uncommon way. The basic concept of the film is to discover the essence of each being. The film explores protagonist’s character through desire, obsession, contradiction, ambivalence and conflict. Being a postmodern film, “DASEIN” is skeptical about religious institutions and it rejects all social norms. Its cross storytelling, nonlinear narrative structure, and different perspective storytelling style represent it as a counter cinema.
We have tried to implement a completely new narrative model (3 Dimensional Narrative). Several types of plots have been used to construct this narrative model. We can explain it in this geometrical way:
“A straight line has been passed through the center of four concentric circles. For example, say the protagonist, Aniket is at the center of the plot. Four characters (parameters: His mother, Step mother, Girlfriend and his competitor Ipshita ) and their individual stories rotate in four different circular paths. A separate linear plot (Aniket with the guys) has also passed through the center of the circles. Here time has been portrayed as an imaginary exponential parameter. It moves in different dimensions randomly like an imaginary exponential equation (Based on Euler’s formula).”
Produced, Written and Directed by Shailik Bhaumik. The Cast includes: Sumanta Mukherjee, Manisha Chakravorty, Anu Chatterjee and Ipshita Samanta.