For the longest time, the concept of anthology films was largely alien to India. However, in the last few years, many anthology films have been made and released in the country. An anthology film can be best described as a feature-length film which comprises of multiple stories united by a single thread or common elements. ‘Panch Kriti Five Elements’, a newly released film which has been produced by Ubon Vision Pvt. Ltd., is an anthology film featuring five stories all of which are set in the small town of Chanderi in the Bundelkhand district of Madhya Pradesh.
While the five stories in the film are different from each other, you do get the sense that they are all a part of the same film. That’s because all the five stories belong to the same milieu and have thematic similarities between them. A sense of mystery and gloom prevails in all the five stories. In their own different ways, the five stories also leave the viewer feeling hopeful even when the end is a little tragic.
‘Khopdee’, the first story in the film, features veteran actor Brijendra Kala and is about a piece of skeleton that is found in a pond. This story, which runs for almost half an hour, packs in thrills, mystery and also humour in equal measure and leave you amused with the turn of events. The twist towards the end, and the way it comes to the fore, is very interesting is very interesting. While the second story ‘Amma’ is about a little girl talking to a mysterious figure, the third story ‘Suataa’ talks about the issues adolescent girls and young women go through in small town India. The fourth story in the film, titled ‘Chapetaa’, delivers an important message through a unique storytelling device. ‘Parchaai’, which is one of the best stories in the film, talks about the idea of eternal love in a very heartfelt manner.
Despite featuring as many as five stories, the film has a runtime of around 2 hours. Each of the five stories is narrated in a very crisp manner and keep you thoroughly engrossed. The pace of the film and the focussed manner in which each of the stories have been approached are two of its biggest strengths. The film has been edited very well and all the stories come to the fore in a cohesive manner. The background score is highly evocative and plays an important role in heightening the drama in the narrative. The one song in the last story (‘Mann Baawra’) is highly tuneful.
The film benefits hugely from the performances delivered by the principal cast. While the film has seasoned performers like Brijendra Kala, a large number of actors in the film happen to be newcomers. The actors not only deliver confident performances but also get the Chanderi dialect right. The performances help the viewers invest themselves in the milieu or the world the stories are set in.
As an anthology film, ‘Panch Kriti Five Elements’ leaves a solid impact. It was a wise decision on the part of the writers and the director to set all the five stories in a particular town and explore many elements through it. The five stories have a voice of their own and offer the viewers an immersive experience.