Directed by Shaeem Jahangir/ Reviewed by Antonio Rozich
Every single movie has a goal. Most often, it’s to entertain. Some aim to entertain but also send across a specific message. In the case of the later, entertainment needs to be sacrificed for the sake of the message. That doesn’t mean the movie will be boring, but the balance needs to be made.
But what do you do when the message you want to send across is polar-opposite of “entertainment”? When your goal is to send a strong message on injustice and poverty?
Darkness Everyday by Shaeem Jahangir tackles that in a great way. The movie portrays the situation in India in 2008 when the country faced multiple political unrests. These political unrests also resulted in the exploitation of religious minorities.
The movie follows a young reporter who’s on a mission to explore the southern parts of India to understand why people are leaving.
With a theme like that, an average viewer will think there’s has to be many fist-quenching scenes where a certain antagonist tortures people and groups steal from villages.
But that’s an action movie, not a movie that realistically depicts the issue.
Instead, Jahangir went for a semi-documentary approach. And in that approach lies the movie’s strongest point. There’s no action in the movie, only people who are tired and are losing hope.
For a great portion of the movie, Jahangir uses strong scenes and haunting music to send the message across. Even when the journalist interviews people, the dialogue is very limited, just enough for the audience to understand what’s happening. This leaves the audience with time to digest the troubles without getting sucked into pointless dialogue.
As he walks through the village, the journalist meets a small family with whom he decides to stay. There he makes friends and creates a connection.
Here, there are small points of happiness. The ability to enjoy small things and even everything seems grim. Although it looks like a build-up for what could lie ahead, the same as the characters learn to enjoy the sparse moment of happiness, so must the audience.
This gives the movie a realistic balance. A balance that acknowledges that although everything seems bad, there still are moments of happiness. Equally can be said vice versa.
The journalist learns that people are leaving because they feel the government let them down. People no longer feel safe, especially if they are from minority groups. Houses are sold, streets are empty, and markets are non-existent. The only people staying are those who are unlikely able to leave.
It’s not bravery that makes them stay, but hopelessness.
After spending a night with the family, the journalist decides to leave. The announcement leaves a sour taste for the family. They don’t want him to leave.
This initially puts the journalist in an awkward situation since he believes the family wants to spend more time with him.
In the final moments of the movie is where Jahangir switches it up in the documentary/narrative symbiosis. The already established uneasiness grows exponentially and the audience is left wondering what’s about to happen.
This masterful play with emotions is what makes the movie shine. In a little over 30 minutes, you get sadness, desperation, happiness, uneasiness, and everything in between. You also see the reality of how many people live, but also a narrative depiction of what might happen.
For some, Darkness Everyday might feel like a chore to watch. But when you consider the movie title, it perfectly relates what the movie will be like. A darkness that looms even in the sunniest of days. There still are some rays of hope, but darkness overshadows even that.
It’s movies like these that play an important role in our society. That kick us right in the gut like a wake-up call for what’s going on around us. Because, while you’re in a movie theater, there are people who just don’t know what to do anymore. They feel betrayed as if everyone abandoned them.
But it’s movies like Darkness Everyday that make sure they are never forgotten.