As a kid, I remember growing up listening to ghost tales, with the clichéd horror formula of a night drive, lonely forest road, and an old dilapidated bungalow haunted by the ghost of its owner/caretaker. While the stories were frightening when we heard them as kids, we’d think we grew out of them.
Jagdish Mishra’s ‘Navigator’ shows actor Partha Sarathi Ray as a typical city corporate guy, hurrying in desperation after office in the evening to reach his village Lalgarh on time, so as not to miss a deal with a real estate broker for disposing his ancestral house. However, as he gets closer to his destination, things take an unexpected turn. One of the most frightening scenarios someone can find themselves in is being in a car with a GPS navigator gone rogue, misleading instead of leading. Navigator explores that fear and leaves us with a terrifying outcome.
The clichéd plot gets a modern reinvention making the short film a very worthy watch. More than anything else, this film has raised the bar in Odia cinema. These talented film makers have pushed aside standard excuses of the industry and proved that it does not take big budgets to produce quality work.
The story plays out naturally, building suspense subtly at first, with the pace rising gradually as the story progresses. The pace is never thrown off for the sake of rushing the story or character development.
When it comes to visual storytelling, the magic lies in the details. Here, a simple linear narrative cleverly forces us to pay attention to details. This short is also unique because of its different background music. No ear splitting and alarming background score, typical of this genre. Instead it’s got a smart immersive sound design.
There are no gross ghosts here, nor blood and gore, but it sure gives you a spine chilling experience of the supernatural, bringing you sufficiently to the edge of your chair.
Keeping the audience glued to the screen for 17 full minutes while being the sole performer with barely a few seconds away from the frame is no mean feat. Partha pulls this off splendidly. Despite the cliché, the film shows that bringing together a good cast and talent behind the camera and sound designing can take an age old formula to a new height.
Even though one is forced, out of circumstances, to judge this film against other cinema produced in the same language, that would be highly unfair. Contemporary Odia cinema rarely sees quality work with below average commercial flicks ruling the roost. Navigator matches up to the best of Indian or even international OTT content. Brilliant acting, excellent camera work and modern rendition of an old formula make Navigator a worthy watch.
Check it out for yourself. You won’t regret your 17 minutes.