Directed by Ganesh S Bhat/ Reviewed by Provesha Pyne
Addictions are the worst. Period.They rob you of the precious time you have in this short life. Once you develop an addiction to anything you cannot get out of the craze without hurting everyone close to you and almost destroying your life.
Ganesh Bhat does something amazing with the characterization of the addiction and the effect it has on the life of the addicted. Chained, in the entirety of its short 12-and-a-half-minutes, tells the story of a man’s addiction and its fatal consequences. It moves through several stages of terror, dejection, anxiety and trepidation. Tensions build as the protagonist tries to make sense of his surroundings. He is trapped and does not have any means of escape.
Thomas, the protagonist, finds himself chained to a chair, bound with rope and unable to move; he is stifled and scared. All he sees around him is darkness, misery and chains. The room reeks of death and despair.
Where is he? What is happening? Why has he been tied up?
These are the questions going through the mind of the viewer while trying to gauge what exactly has happened to Thomas for him to find himself in that room. Finally, there enters a man dressed in a crisp white shirt and khaki-coloured pants, emerging from a cloud of smoke and a fiery orange light. Thomas looks terrified, exhausted and visibly petrified.
It appears they have an intimate relationship and one feels this as the man caresses Thomas’ face and one feels the passion in his voice. The relationship between them seems simultaneously violent and tragic. Thomas desperately tries to plead with the man to let him go, and yet he doesn’t try hard enough. The viewer understands this and we see a deeply personal yet strained relationship shared by the two men.
That is exactly what the filmmaker wants to exhibit. Misery and torment plaguing the soul of the afflicted. Addictions wreak havoc in our lives. If you have ever been afflicted or you have watched a loved one succumb to an addiction, you know exactly how desperate the situation is. One feels helpless and unable to deal with life. Tension grips their lives and nothing seems worth doing. People suffering from these addictive disorders might be aware of their problems but they are unable to stop. We see Thomas wanting to stop his addiction. The tragedy is that he is so far gone that nothing can bring him back, nor can he be saved because his addiction has enslaved him. His health fails him and he is constantly gripped with fear and concern for his family. The epitome of this tragedy is seen at the very end when it finally dawns on the viewer: the victim is too far gone.
With a desperate, “What do you want from me? I will do everything you want. Please just let me go.” Thomas pleads with his captor to let him go but it is in vain. He is ruined and the addiction has destroyed his life. This is the message that Ganesh Bhatt so explicitly expresses through this film. You can see the anguish and pain in the protagonist’s eyes as he fights with the demons within him. Vigil Bose does a wonderful job of personifying the addiction and bringing to life the terrifying issue.
Motti Tadmor as Thomas portrays a man filled with genuine fear for his life. Being the two main protagonists, one expects them to work in harmony and juxtapose the complexity in their characters. Offsetting each other, they build such a brilliant performance, it is wonderful to watch. They throw light on an issue that has been affecting our society for ages. Chained, well and truly depicts an important societal issue and explicates the dangers of addiction. It captures the audience right from the beginning and educates on an issue that has gripped society.