Akshay Indikar's Film ‘Trijya’ Channels The Loneliness Of Scorcese's Taxi Driver
Image Credit: Trijya

Akshay Indikar's Film ‘Trijya’ Channels The Loneliness Of Scorcese's Taxi Driver

“Who says you exist?

Doubt your existence”

This quote by the protagonist from Trijya sets the perfect tone for the film. Directed by Akshay Indikar and produced by Arfi Lamba, Katharina Suckale and Arvind Pakhle, this Marathi feature is a semi-autobiographical, homegrown prayer in loneliness. It’s a story about a villager, Avdhut Kale, who moves to Pune to work as a reporter. He is a poet but is forced to work on mundane stories like municipal corporations, inaugurations and public appeals. He writes for the astrology column as a joke but as it gains popularity, he’s asked to continue despite his disinterest. Avdhut is an introvert and we can see it from the beginning as he lies in his room avoiding the guests at his village house, disconnected from the etiquette and obligations of a middle-class Indian family. He often travels between Pune and his village but is constantly in search of a place he can truly call home.

The film has a static composition that adds to the existential turmoil of the character. The cinematography by Indikar and Swapnil Shete stands out strongly. Different hues of blue throughout the scenes become symbolic of the melancholic theme this story contains. The long, slow shots create a dystopian environment and a sense of unease for the viewer. Mandar Kamlapurkar provides an exceptional sound design for the film. The background music is mostly the delayed and distorted sounds of the city. Even some lines of dialogue are turned into static noise as our character zones out, which happens quite frequently. The atmosphere surrounding Avdhut is a microcosm of his chaotic inner world.

Trapped in a state of inertia, Avdhut finds himself increasingly adrift amidst the hurried activity and blaring noise of the city space. He stands still beside busy, fume-ridden roads as vehicles rush by. He rejects an arranged marriage for valid reasons like his income and his emotional unavailability. Even when there is a romantic encounter with a girl at the bookstore, it’s a lacklustre relationship. There are no butterflies or sparks, just companionship in loneliness and a mutual outlook they share for what their lives could have been. The bonding itself has depressing roots. The film has different chapters that study the progressions of his isolation. He struggles to relate to the world and is debilitatingly restless. Seeking some semblance of peace, he travels out to the countryside but his disconnection remains the same. He gets on a train without knowing where he’s going, and when he’s fined for travelling without a ticket, he offers to recite a poem to avoid jail. Avdhut is the typical lost, creative soul that is spoken about as a cliché but represents a majority of artists and dreamers around the world. This film doesn’t have a three-act structure model of setup, confrontation and resolution. It’s all conflict, within oneself, till the end.

Trijya, according to me, is the Indian version of Paul Schrader’s Taxi Driver. It’s the same dissection of the pathology of loneliness; a spiritual ailment that leaves a lingering, discernible, emotional tension. Avdhut experiences his interactions with others the same as Travis, with an awkward distance, and from a different plane of understanding. There is an apathy he exhibits towards society and its framework of professional success, marriage and other social achievements. He isn’t violent in the literal sense of the word but faces self-pitying and self-aggrandizing isolation in his search for meaning, which is surely destructive. Avdhut has a job, friends, and family but he doesn’t have a home. His persona fits better into empty, natural landscapes of forests and the sea than it does in the population of a city. Indian movies rarely touch on subjects of such nature. To see a character portray that dimension of self in an Indian middle-class setting is deeply comforting thus ironically, the film, for the viewer, becomes what the character is looking for, a haven.

You can check out this film here.

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