Directed by Jitanshu Sharma/ Reviewed by Antonio Rozich
Ever so often a film comes along that catches you off guard. At one moment you’re pressing play to watch yet another movie and are glued to the screen the moment later. Suddenly, your brain lits up, pushing the passive thoughts aside and going into full active mode.
With some movies, it takes for the plot to unravel until that happens. But when you have a short film that’s only 7 minutes long, there’s no time for that. You need to catch the audience from the first second. If you’re in for a surprise that’s both pleasant and unsettling, Fantasy Cafe by Jitanshu Sharma is for you.
From the getgo, what grabs your attention in the film is the minimalistic cinematography, combined with silent, yet impactful music. It’s not rare that even a semi-experienced director manages to create the right atmosphere — especially if he or she has an equally experienced cinematographer or if they can do it by themselves. Nevertheless, whenever something is done right, it requires compliments.
With that in mind, it’s important to mention people who helped Sharma create Fantasy Cafe. Biswanath Saha and Soumojit Ghosh are the cinematographers who created the perfect setting. Sayan Mullick managed to use a couple of colors and create a complete visual experience. Bhaskar Ganguly is the mastermind behind the musical score and Abhishek AV did the finishing touches to the music. Finally, Anindya Bose helped as the assistant director and the key cast are Pritam Bhattacharya and Mitrajit Das.
Ok, now that the praises are done, time to get back to the film.
After the introduction, viewers are introduced to 2 male characters sitting across one another in complete darkness. The first few seconds are a lighthearted chat, but quickly makes a sharp turn and catches the audience unprepared.
I won’t reveal the exact moment, but for most of the viewers, it will likely create an unsettling feeling, possibly even disgust — depending on what you think of the topic.
But you might start to doubt the filmmaker’s intentions and even stop the movie altogether because you don’t want to give the film more attention. It’s also possible that it won’t make sense how can someone who’s clearly talented enough to create such an artistic setting, be capable of having those thoughts.
As the two characters dig deeper into the topic, the sensation will grow and grow, but you must press on. Or not, it’s your choice.
To dig deeper into what follows next would actually be a spoiler since the point of Fantasy Cafe isn’t the story, but the feeling and thoughts you get as a viewer. Thus, to explain further could easily create a preliminary opinion based on someone else’s opinion.
What can be said is that by the end, the film expands from a highly specific topic to a bigger, more general one. A topic that includes every single human being and not just those who belong to a specific group.
To get back to technicalities a bit, everything, from a small tilt of the camera to a second of silence, plays perfectly into creating an unsettling environment. An environment that isn’t pretty too look at, but needs to be experienced nonetheless.
As the film ends, the quick shift in the surroundings feels like waking up from an uncomfortable dream. One of those dreams you don’t feel good for having, but they keep your mind occupied for the following day.
You start pondering if what you just dreamt is really and you’re even a bit scared if it is part of the real world. You also keep thinking why it was you that had that dream and what does that say about you.
And that’s the exact effect movies should have on people. A dream that isn’t real but paints our reality better than any news article ever could. It goes without saying that Jitanshu Sharma and the team did it perfectly with Fantasy Cafe.