NEW HEAVEN by SWATI CHUGH

Directed by  Swati Chugh/ Reviewed by Monali Majhi

Old age hits different people differently.  Some find wisdom. Roman philosopher Cicero affirmed this with, “For there is assuredly nothing dearer to a man than wisdom, and though age takes away all else, it undoubtedly brings us that.” Aging is still considered a sign of experience and wisdom in many cultures across the planet. But it is not the case always. Getting old often brings loneliness. Thomas Merton is of the opinion that “Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.” This development from loneliness to wisdom takes place in Swati Chugh’s short film New Heaven.

The movie opens with a woman in her late 50s doing housework. And while she is doing so, she contemplates of the decay that old age brings. She looks in the mirror and sees wrinkles in her face which used to be a radiant once. Then she opens her old photo album. We preserve the important events and people in our lives. Photographs are our personal story, a timeline of our lives filled with faces and places that we love. They are our story, which we can share with others. The hundreds of images come together to form a narrative of our lives.
Same happens to her as she goes through the old photographs. She laughs. She cries. But most important thing is she realizes how to give her life a purpose. She opens a home stay for aspiring actors in Hollywood. She probably wanted to become an actress in her young days.

But things did not turn out in her favor. Now she is giving the opportunity to young talents to flourish their talents. Talent does not expensive instruments. Sometimes it just needs guidance and support from another empathetic soul. She acts just as that.

Guests started coming in soon after she puts up the notice. She becomes happy with the arrival of young minds around her. It is as if she is rejuvenated after a long solitary struggle. She helps them as much as she can. She helps somebody remember their lines or guide another to gain self-confidence back. Her relationship with her tenants is a symbiotic one. It is very refreshing. It indeed is a New Heaven.

New Heaven has everything that it takes to make a good movie. The plot develops quickly and without much complexity. Yet, it conveys the message beautifully. Since New Heaven is a silent film, there is no scope of dialogues. But you barely miss the presence of dialogues with Chugh’s direction. Lady Jane Samson has acted brilliantly in the character. Jialu Liu’s cinematography is on point. Overall, New Heaven is a feel good movie. It subtly points out how different approach to life can give meaning to life and make someone happy. Swati Chugh did a commendable job with her film. I shall wait for more of her movies.

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