Kripal Kalita’s ‘Bridge’ brings to focus the destruction caused by floods

Assamese movie ‘Bridge’, directed by Kripal Kalita, tells the story of loss, pain and suffering of a determined girl to surf through the floods

Debutant director Kripal Kalita’s Assamese movie Bridge tells the story of loss, despair, disappointment and grief centred around a bridge over a rivulet.

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The 125 minute-long film grabbed the limelight when Shiva Rani Kalita, playing lead character Jonaki, won the best debutant actor at the recent Ottawa India Film Festival.

Poster of Bridge

Director Kripal had earlier worked on short films and TV serials and is also a stage actor. He reveals that though more than 300 girls auditioned for the role of Jonaki, Shiva Rani was picked because she wasn’t nervous with the camera. The film was shot on locations in and around Golaghat and Lakhimpur district in Upper Assam. Kripal says, “Shiva Rani is from a village nearby. As an observer, her experience with coping pain and loss was what made her suitable for the character. The story, in fact, is a compilation of news events due to the flood, which happens every year in Assam and takes a lot away from families who live close to the Brahmaputra.”

Apart from grief, the film also focusses on a girl who is determined to make ends meet and becomes the breadwinner by farming on their land and selling produce. The fast paced movie was shot in real time to show the six seasons, especially the monsoon of Assam. Though the project was to end in 2019, the director took a couple of months more to capture the peak monsoon season. “Monsoon in Assam needs no description. Though we all love rain, people from the flood-affected villages dread it. In my movie I am not romanticising Assam’s beauty by showing tea gardens, Kaziranga and the state’s flora and fauna. My film is about emotions and relations and the manner in which people function and carry on with their hardships.”

Director Kripal Kalita by special arrangement

Director Kripal Kalita by special arrangement

In Bridge, he also shows how life goes on with a makeshift raft (made by tyingbanana barks) to connect two villages. “The tributary that I show in Bridge is the Charukuriya river. It is a tributary of the Brahmaputra that often floods and washes away homes and lives,” he adds.

Kripal plans to release his feature film on an OTT platform.

Shiva Rani speaks

Shiva Rani Kalita plays the role of Jonaki in Bridge. The ease with which she ploughs the field in the film will make it difficult to believe that she has never done anything like that before. An ardent fan of Rekha, the 21-year-old says she was petrified of the ox in the beginning. She took a couple of months to prepare for her role, attending workshops with a local actor. About the recognition, Jonaki says it was like a dream come true.

Says Shiva Rani, “The ploughing experience was unbelievable. It was tiring, but also gave an idea about the man-animal bonding. I could relate to Jonaki’s struggle to take care of her epileptic mother and school-going brother. I want to continue acting and bring out human emotions on the screen.”

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