Bloom Short Film Review: A visually rich tale of love in the time of lockdown
There is no right or wrong in Bloom because it is set in a space where the lines can actually be blurred, and no one would bat an eyelid
Is there a right time and place to fall in love? Doesn’t the isolation and loneliness that comes with a phenomenon like this raging pandemic make us crave for company? And what is love if not the right company even at the wrong times? We see people on social media throw shade on people falling in love or marrying or even becoming parents during the pandemic. But more than anything doesn’t it show a person’s desperate need to share their lives with another person? When did wanting to be loved become a bad thing? When did wanting to love become a sign of desperation? Haven’t we heard of the adage that even during the gloomiest of times, a flower always finds the time and space to bloom?
Cast: Mitra Visvesh, Ashwin Raam
Director: Richard Antony
Streaming on: YouTube
Richard Antony’s debut short film, Bloom, out on YouTube on the Madras Talkies channel, aims to draw parallels to the film's love story between Mitra (Mitra Visvesh) and Ashwin (Ashwin Raam), the story of Garden of Eden, and the pandemic. If it is Ashwin’s loneliness that sets him on the path to meet Mitra, it is the latter’s desperation that makes her seek out a like-minded companion. Bloom is very much set among the urban elite whose primary concern wasn’t really sustenance. Ashwin is a DJ who can live in a city like Chennai despite getting booze bottles as payment arrears from bars he played at. Mitra is an artist/web designer techie who is forced to stay in Chennai to help her parents. Their companionship begins with a social media post, which can definitely be categorised under borderline creepy or stalking. But with a few such social media interactions, the cuter the people, the lesser the creepiness of romantic overtures.
It also helps that Niketh Bommi’s visuals, Kaber Vasuki’s lines, and Hari Madras Rengarajan’s music gives the couple a sense of authenticity. However, it also adds a glossy sheen to the proceedings to remind us we are indeed watching a work that is from the Madras Talkies stables. But more than just the visuals, music and lyrics, it is the performances of both Mitra Visvesh and Ashwin Raam that allow us to be invested in their lives. They effortlessly sell the millennial quality that allows strangers to easily be friends. The writing allows both these characters to breathe life into the mundane, and their mutual liking and our liking for them grows gradually. It isn’t instantaneous, but since it is a short film, it isn’t as fleshed out either. Since we are not shown every sent text or are privy to every minute of their phone conversations, it is up to us to fill in the blanks and assume they have grown closer with time. There is an understated sense of incompleteness in their equation, which translates to our perception of them too. Of course, there is a big conflict that comes in to derail the fledgling relationship. I personally loved how the initiation of this equation, and even the conflict were a result of the woman’s decision. It is Mitra who plays dangerously with the creepy factor even as Ashwin plays along and pulls off a few stunts of his own. There is no right or wrong in Bloom because it is set in a space where the lines can actually be blurred, and no one would bat an eyelid. Also, it is nice to see a woman have agency over her mind, body, and social media space.
Just like the criticism held against previous lockdown stories like Putham Pudhu Kaalai, Bloom too paints quite the rosy picture of a lockdown. It is tough to enjoy the chirping of the birds, tripping on the starry nights, or even basking in the vast expanse of the evening orange skies when livelihoods are in danger. But again, the world is made up of all kinds of people, and even though Ashwin and Mitra’s problems might not be devastating, it is important to them. Looking chic can’t be held against Mitra and Ashwin. Are they oblivious to the calamitous pandemic around them? We don’t know because Bloom doesn’t delve much into these aspects. Apart from a throwaway line about how Ashwin doesn’t like watching the news because the real-world impact is too overwhelming, there isn’t much we know about their understanding of what’s happening. But again, does a filmmaker owe it to the times to not just gloss over a pandemic? Can a film made on the pandemic really not reflect the grave realities? Does it reek of elitism or is it just one person telling the story of two people in the way he wanted to?
Our answers to these questions truly determine how we perceive Bloom. Just like most things in the world, the beauty and the not-so-beautiful parts of Bloom squarely lies in the eyes of the beholder.