Long-distance relationships are complicated. They are either a test that sometimes become a deal-breaker in romantic relationships or they are a concrete proof of the power of love. There are examples of successful long-distance relationships all around us. Hollywood power couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski are admired for their healthy, playful chemistry and are considered ‘relationship goals’. And although they were married shortly after they met, their shoot schedules have kept them apart for long periods of time. In fact, when Emily was shooting for Mary Poppins Returns, John flew to her set every weekend to see her. However, not everybody has the resources to travel across the world whenever they miss their partner. For regular couples, phone-calls and social media is the only medium that lets them stay connected.
Exploring that connection in a deeply personal story is Shobhit Narang’s short film called Shared Space. It revolves around the protagonists Gurnazar and Baani, played by Mann Gera, Ojas Godatwar and Raghav Surana (voice of Gur), a young couple in a long-distance relationship. The film is shot in a conversation format that starts with their day and develops into a window into their identities. Gur and Baani are filled with the desire to be with each other as anyone in love does. The conversations between them are a gradual journey through their dreams to be together in the future. Gur happens to be in Bombay and he wants Baani to visit him so they can go on a picnic in a garden the old-school way. The film depicts the hopes of a couple building a world in their imaginations where they can be together.
Screened at the Durban International Film Festival and selected for many others, The short film is shot in black and white which translates the drama and longing in Gur and Baani’s relationship through the screen. Their lives are portrayed through two frames presented together which exemplifies their relationship. Their conversations are cute and affectionate but the separate frames contrast the intimacy with the physical distance. A noteworthy cinematic moment in the film happens in the synergy of the two frames; Gur, wiping the watermarks from his hot cup of tea from the table as Baani imprints a leaf on her sketchbook at the same time. The actions feel opposite yet connected, like the couple itself, voicing some opposing views about their lives together but wanting the same union. The film tries to achieve an aesthetic of its own, centring intimacy, which comes through with the cinematography and animation but is hindered by the writing which at times breaks the flow of the theme the narrative is trying to build. As the film ends, Baani calls Gur a flower as she’s seen with a mogra behind her ear which becomes symbolic of their love that she has adorned herself with.
Baani doesn’t like the terms 'long-distance' and 'relationships'. She rather believes that she and Gur inhabit a ‘shared space’ which cannot be lived in by those who are emotionally distant. The film paints an endearing picture of a couple that is apart from each other but also a part of each other in a way that makes the distance irrelevant. It offers us, through a charming flick, a new perspective on intimacy and rejuvenates us with the blissful spark of young love that we often forget about in the coldness of the world.