Biswajeet’s Bora’s Assamese film, God On The Balcony, is inspired from the real-life story of poverty-stricken Dana Majhi from Odisha, who carried the dead body of his wife for several kilometres. Khagen Das is a laborer based in a village in Assam where the locals are faced with many problems like rains , flood, and their cultures being destroyed by greedy politicians and cruel businessmen. Another big threat is the wild elephants that are frequent in the area and they wreck everything that comes in their way. One day , Khagen and his daughter went to attend a festival and meanwhile wild elephants plundered Khagen’s home. Khagen carries his wife on his bicycle but her wife dies as soon as they reach the hospital. Later on , tired of waiting for an ambulance to carry the body of his wife Khagen takes her back in the cycle. However, a few reporters get hold of them and eventually it becomes a trending issue.
The first half of the film skilfully moves between past and the present but the second half fails to maintain the pace. There are emotional, humane moments throughout the film which leaves an impact on your mind but the fact that the director likes to maintain balance the genre of the film between over dramatic and natural is clearly visible and at some places it just disrupts the flow. The caring of the goat kid which was one of the dearest things to Khagen’s wife. The film closes on the father-daughter from a different area and towards the ends it shows a pregnant woman being pulled on a cart towards a hospital which indicates no matter the issues may have come under a limelight and promises towards change were made but the struggle still stays.
At one point, the daughter asks her father, “We all live under the same sky. Then why aren’t we equal?” The father looks at her solemnly and later, comments – “People are worse than the wild elephants we live with.” Once Khagen ties his wife’s body to the bicycle to trek back to his village, the narrative becomes linear. This may appear confusing to begin with but once we get into grips with it, it offers a unique perspective of presenting a touching story on how human rights are structurally violated goes unpunished in marginalised villages and cities in India.
Harish Khanna did a brilliant job in playing the role of Khagen Das and so does Porinandhi Jima Sultana as the daughter. There are particular silent moments in the film where Harish Khanna’s performance resonates.The cinematography by Vishal Khatri is spectacular, the vivid colors are skilfully captured and the sound design is very well-crafted. Overall, God on the Balcony is a good emotional account of a real life incident but it isn’t particularly great because of the confusing intentions of the makers regarding the flow of the film.
NEW YORK INDIA FILM FESTIVAL #3