Who ordered love?
Directed by Anban Govindarajan | Review by Prarthana Mitra
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ho ordered love? is Anban Govindarajan’s debut attempt at filmmaking and a rather charming piece of cinema at that. Exploiting his understanding of human nature and relationships to the hilt, Anban has exercised complete freedom and abandon in making the creative choices that ultimately drive this silent film. For example, he leaves no place for you to question why human choices should not be served up in a menu. Or what clowns are doing at a restaurant. Or why nobody really talks in the film.
About four and a half minutes long, Who ordered Love? personifies essential human values and relationship choices in the simplistic manner of a Morality play—with characters in clown costumes named after Greed, Ego, Lust, Friendship and Sacrifice. What you order is what you get, reads Anban’s succinct teaser without revealing too much. But his film means exactly that.
The first-time director sets his film in a bustling diner which allows its patrons to choose from an assortment of life choices. Ostensibly, this sounds like a theatrical gimmick, which is not far from the truth as the harsh lighting, musical cues, elaborate costumes and generous use of mime seem to suggest. Thoroughly entertaining, the film also includes a lively background score, clownery, horseplay, song and dance, in an attempt to tone down its didactic overtures. But the shifting angles of DoP Mohammad Iyaz’s camera offers a panoramic view of the diner, which is doubtless an eccentric choice for setting. And the dialogue cards between scenes confirms what you may have already guessed.
Playing directly into the theme, archetypes of egoistic, shy, greedy and lustful couples abound in the film and leaves the narrator to wonder who ordered Love. A twist in the tale eventually awaits, when we learn that this is all happening inside a daydream, of a blind man nonetheless.
A handsome young man sitting at a corner table, the aforementioned narrator who had seemingly been observing the goings-on, turns out to be quite the fanciful writer. The last scene focuses solely on him; he is seen jotting down the events that have unfolded so far, when he whisked away by his ophthalmologist and the viewer is jolted back to reality.
This meta-structure further aligns the film to its theatrical signature and Anban, who himself stars in film’s opening scene, manages to vacillate between dream and surrealism. The absurd dream of a blind man both poses and answers the film’s titular question—nobody orders love. At the same time, the film and its vibrant motley cast pull off a delicious play on the favourite adage—Love is blind.
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.