The premise of the Aarti Kadav directed short film is extremely fascinating. It’s the last day on the planet of Earth. A meteoroid named Celestine is approaching the Earth at the speed of 55 km/sec. It will soon crash into Earth causing life to end, no one will be left. Even if someone is fortunate enough to survive this disastrous crash, the succeeding earthquakes and tsunamis will do the requisite. The impact of this crash is equivalent to 1000 nuclear bombs. For the next 100 years, there won’t be any life on the planet. With a gloomy present, uncertain future, and death being the only actuality, the short tries to locate love and humanity by chewing over the unsaid things of the past.
Suraj (a focussed Mrinal Dutt) is going about his last day on the Earth. He wakes up, heads to the grocery store collecting the essentials for one last time. It’s also the time to bid a painful farewell to the closed ones. A pretty emotional call with the father follows. Later on a friend perusal, he joins a video call- the last friends get together. Srishti (an effective Richa Chadda very much continuing her Unpaused portrayal) is also on the same call. Suraj, who has always loved Srishti but never confessed, finally declares his love. It’s an awkward as well as a really sweet moment. The remaining short is very much ‘an unusual date’ that the duo never really had. They banter about things that they couldn’t do before. The conversation gets a bit weird at places but it’s compelling and cute. It does affect you as a viewer making you ponder that more than just love, it feels like a moment of solidarity- two individuals in their last moments talk about that they may be lonely up until now but this terrifying event has brought them much closer, not just them but the has essentially awoken the entire humanity.
It seems that Aarti Kadav has a thing for unrequited or uncompleted love stories. Her directorial debut- a highly impressive Cargo also dealt with a similar theme. Cargo put forwarded the nice, poetic idea that “nothing is never really lost... something or other remains”. In 55kms/sec she plays with a similar thought but goes one step further by placing it in a setting where the future is uncertain or isn’t even there, where you have to search for that “lost thing” then and there. Srishti may not have considered her love for Suraj by then but when confronted by death and urgency, just the fact that she won’t be able to see or talk to him any longer makes her think and act in that direction. The film connects so deeply because in some sense it all feels very lived-in. Having to survive one of the most terrifying years of human existence, where isolation led to serious stress and death seemed real, the distress in 55km/sec feels authentic. Conceptualized, shot, and released in a pandemic makes it easy for the film to bring its point across.
It’s also great detailing that works in favour of the film. The Doordarshan type journalists covering the oncoming of the meteoroid, the motivating quotes (like- “It’s ok”, “Born to die”) which are put up as billboards, of grocery store owner not taking money, of underground bunkers made by the state to protect as many people from the calamity, of rich migrating to space stations and the middle class taking refuge in man-holes. Even the names of the characters align with the larger theme- Suraj being Sun, Srishti which means the Universe. The form of storytelling also helps the film to establish its urgency and extremity. Given it chooses to be a short film- where the narrative has to unfurl within a stipulated time (22 minutes) and it being a disaster drama, indeed a really effective match.
55km/sec is streaming on Disney+Hotsar and YouTube.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Brief Bulletin.