Sandalwood

Amazon Prime Video

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society author Mary Ann Shaffer once said, “Humour is the best way to make unbearable bearable.” The director-duo Esham and Haseen Khan’s film Ikkat is the embodiment of the quote. The title itself is indicative of how the lockdown was very suffocating as the world—in a blink of an eye—had come to a standstill. While the film is sure to give you a hearty laugh throughout the two-hour running time, the moment that remains etched in my mind is when Nagabhushana’s Vasu, who’s always nagging his wife, counting her shortcomings and bickering with her, stands by her when his distant relative (Sunder) slanders Bhoomi Shetty’s Janvi.

Janvi and Vasu are a typical middle-class couple who live in a very cliched two-bedroom house in a suburban area of a metropolitan city. The film opens with a high-angle shot of Vasu, Janvi and pest-control personnel trying to look for something in a small broken corner of the kitchen. The couple begins fighting which puts the third-person in an uncomfortable situation and he wants out. This sets the premise for how rocky their relationship is and how they cannot stand each other at all. They continue their bickering when they both receive the shock of their lives—a nation-wide lockdown has been announced. All their attempts of wanting out get foiled and the two are forced to live with each other.

The congestion then begins as the couple navigates through their daily lives with this new unknown infection that is spreading across the globe, while the hysterical reportage they hear on news channels induces fear in them about the coronavirus. Amidst all the chaos, a small scene captures the emotions millions felt due to the unprecedented lockdown. Vasu is speaking to his boss and enquiring whether or not he will receive his salary if they shift to work from home. The low-angle shot shows how vulnerable he feels at the moment. The one scene depicts how the unprecedented lockdown left millions in an uncertain situation as ambiguity lurked over their future. Many such scenes reveal how the pandemic and lockdown affected scores of Indians.

The plot of the film further thickens when Vasu feels a presence in the house and consults an astrologer who tries to exploit the situation by instilling fear of a ghost lurking around.  Imbroglios ensue with the arrival of Uncle Karna who is Vasu’s distant relative. And the nosy neighbour Mr Murthy played by Anand Ninasam adds an extra dash of quirk to the film.

While the film is primarily about the lockdown, it does not fail to broach the subject of superstitions, the prevalent ostracism of patients with coronavirus infection or those suspected to have contracted the infection, with craft. Through RJ Vicky’s DudeBro, the makers show how online interactions go awry when people become obsessed with them and take drastic measures which land them in difficult situations. The Khan brothers who have also written the film don’t take a didactic approach but let the viewers think for themselves. The two promised to deliver a light-hearted and family entertainer and they have done so.

However, I lost myself in parts of the film as it felt like it was dragging on. The runtime could have been shortened by at least 30 minutes. For the duo’s first attempt at a feature film, it is a commendable effort, especially since it was not short of challenges like shooting the film in one location. Bhoomika and Nagabhushana’s stint as a typical quarrelling middle-class couple seems so effortless and relatable. Their acting grabs the audience’s attention right from the start.

The background score in Ikkat takes the cake for me though. The funky music in otherwise serious situations cracks one up in an instant. Additionally, the exit of each character is so meticulously planned and is as hilarious as their entry. As the cast and crew had promised in interviews, this is indeed a very relatable film and worth a watch. 

The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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