Review by Prarthana Mitra
Symbolism and imagination come together in “The Hospital Corridor”. It’s easy to mistake Farhad Shahi’s short film for a love story but upon closer inspection, it essentially tells an age-old story of hope.
That human anchor and life force Emily Dickinson describes as “the thing with feathers”.
At the heart of Shahi’s film is this vision of hope. Not to use the word lightly since the narrative concerns itself with a pair of visionless strangers who come into each other’s orbit at a rehabilitation center.
Take Care Flower
“The Hospital Corridor”, whose Bengali title directly translates as “Take Care, Flower” is a rather delicate and sensitive portrayal of their other-sensory experience. Shahi gives us a more meditative than a mordant exploration of what it means to see the world through the eyes of another.
This is the essence one takes away when the credits roll. The theme percolates in a halfway scene where the female lead, a woman in her early thirties, tells her friend, “I love the way you see the world; it helps me picture a better world than I would have if I still had my eyesight.”
The space of the corridor offers them both a sojourn into each other’s worlds. It’s where Arnab (played by Mir Rabby) first hears Maisha’s mellifluous rendition of a Tagore song. This is where they begin to routinely converge and talk about the past. They exchange vividly descriptive stories, memories, and images to make up for the lack of eyesight.
A chance meeting in the hospital corridor
Shahi never explicitly clarifies why or how long Maisha (Rumana Rashid Ishita) has been undergoing therapy. Regardless, her melancholic despair and hopelessness are palpable to Arnab as well as the viewer.
The verdant prose complements the surroundings of the hospital offering its greenery up to Maisha and Arnab as the two develop a special symbiotic bond.
But there’s a thin veil of deceit on Arnab’s part. He stages an elaborate white lie to restore Maisha’s faith in the living, to restore a ray of light in her eternal darkness.
Insight and eyesight
The viewer, unlike Maisha, isn’t in the dark about Arnab’s motives. Of course, we eventually figure out that Arnab too has lost his eyesight for good in a gruesome accident.
Nonetheless, he goes along with a sort of unspoken understanding between the two, conjuring out of thin air the words to describe their immediate surroundings that helps Maisha come out of her shell.
In other words, he becomes her eyes, her surrogate observer.
Tonally and sonically, the mood of the film corresponds to the feeling one gets while reading the works of “Maupassant” or “O’Henry”, whose stories often end with a humanitarian twist like “The Hospital Corridor”.
The beauty of Bangladeshi fiction, folklore, and culture also finds its place in the film with songs, metanarratives, and allusions.
Truth and Fiction
The turning point of the narrative arrives with a novel that Arnab pretends to narrate from aloud. After his sudden and unannounced departure, Maisha is aghast to learn the truth behind the story he leaves unfinished but also realizes the lesson in all this.
Just as the story Arnab urges Maisha to finish the way she sees fit.
With an endless sea of possibilities – it is the gift of all uncertainties the future holds that he has been pushing her to imagine and embrace all along.
Shahi screenplay and writer Tasneemul Taz’s dialogues coupled with the lead pair’s acting chops pay off in capturing the impact of this revelation. In the end, “The Hospital Corridor” is about a journey from darkness to light. It’s a pathway from passive resignation to reclaiming the future.
Prarthana is presently in between odd jobs and obtaining her master’s degree in literature. She loves modern poetry and meditative cinema. Based out of Calcutta, Prarthana observes people, football, films and enjoys writing about all three. Of late, she relates to Frank Ocean’s music. Her writing experience consists of writing for various sites such as Try Cinema, The Indian Economist, Doing The Rondo, Saintbrush and various academic journals.