By Elodie Hamidovic (13.04.2019) Adapted from completely different stories by Dostoevsky and Prem Chand, Sharad Raj's _Souvenir de mes nuits blanches_ (Ek Betuke Aadmi Ki Afrah Raatein) was premiered at the ‘Festival des Cinémas Indiens de Toulouse’ (Toulouse Indian Film Festival). I couldn't find elements of Prem Chand's "Bhoot" which had inspired the filmmaker. But it is easy to find elements of Dostoevsky's main theme of the ‘Nuits Blanches’ (White Nights) in the film. This sentimental novel was adapted by many film makers in the past, but by transferring it to the modern-day North India, Sharad Raj is able to breathe a new life into it. Gulmohar (Rajveer Verma) meets Gomti, whom he immediately falls in love with. They find themselves telling each other their stories - his meeting with Anita Muslin (Mia Maelzer), an immigrant from Bangladesh, and her life with her father (Adi Hussain). The camera that gently walks between Muzaffarnagar and Lucknow does not lie. The places are as authentic as the characters of the film and its plot. In ‘Ek Betuki Aadmi Ki Afrah Raatein’ the disturbing news of everyday life in India has a real place. It is not beautiful, sometimes violent, and penetrates everyone's mind. There is Gomti's father who fears that she will be raped on every street corner and there is Anita, who brings Gulmohar a slice of the breakaway of Bangladesh from Pakistan. The evolution of the protagonists and their universe is also intriguing. On the one hand, there is something very mysterious about Gulmohar's depressive humour and unchanged look, worn very well by Rajveer Verma. His meeting with Gomti is like a salute. He needs someone to share what is gnawing at him. Someone he can love and maybe protect, something he failed to do with Anita. The whole part about his existence is almost unreal, poetic and accented with floating moments. In complete contrast, when the camera turns to Gomti and her father, everything is more precise and direct, based not only on a real fact, but also on the mythology of God Brahma, father and creator of Saraswati, who desired his daughter as she was beautiful, and created the world with her. Adil Hussain, has a very small role but does complete justice to it. His scenes with Archana Gupta (a real favorite of this film) are compelling, in particular the sequence of a classical dance, which is simply hypnotic. We are carried away by the memories of ‘Ek Betuke Aadmi ki Afraah Raatein’ which really brings something new to cinema, which not just France but India too is not used to. If you have to find a defect (because no work is perfect), I may highlight the soundtrack of the film that does not always do justice to the images. A work to see. RATING : 4/ 5
L' ECRAN REVIEW IN FRENCH
Here's her review, enjoy ! "Dernier film : Je reviens au Gaumont pour la projection de Souvenirs de mes nuits blanches de Sharad Raj (2018). Un drame qui nous conte l’histoire de trois personnages confrontés à la guerre et à la violence en Inde. Nous sommes chanceux car nous assistons à la première projection mondiale en présence de l’équipe du film. Un film très poétique, avec une merveilleuse photographie et des plans magnifiques. Cette adaptation du roman Les nuits blanches de Dostoïevski est vraiment très réussie. On s’y retrouve totalement, bien que des choses séparent ces deux récits. Mention spéciale à la scène mythologique, qui fait référence au mythe de la création du monde selon les hindous où le dieu Brahma commet l’inceste avec sa fille Ushas (n’allez pas imaginer des choses salaces sur cette scène ! Je vous vois déjà venir !). C’est une scène esthétiquement parfaite tant au niveau du cadre et de la composition des plans, qu’au niveau de la chorégraphie totalement maîtrisée, très sensuelle et vraiment sublime (vous ne pourrez comprendre cette scène qu’en regardant ce film, que je vous conseille vivement). Les scènes tournées comme un documentaire au milieu des archives de documentaire sont très à propos. Elles ancrent le film dans la réalité et font ainsi se confondre la fiction et le réel, ce qui donne plus d'ampleur au film et à son histoire. Par contre les images d’archives sont très choquantes, âmes sensibles s’abstenir ! Petit reproche : le twist de fin que je n'ai pas forcément apprécié, car un peu trop “déjà-vu”. Mais cela n’enlève rien à la qualité du film dans son entièreté et principalement à sa photographie toute en contrastes qui saura, j’en suis persuadée, ravir vos yeux de cinéphiles aguerris."
A film critic (from a student magazine L'Ecran) watched The Joyous Nights of a Ridiculous Man Ek Betuke AAdmi Ki Afrah Raatien by Sharad Raj. Here's her review, enjoy ! " last movie: I come back to the gaumont for the screening of memories of my sleepless nights of Sharad Raj (2018). A drama that tells us the story of three characters facing war and violence in India. We are lucky because we are attending the first world projection in the presence of the film team. A very poetic film, with a wonderful photography and beautiful plans. This adaptation of the novel the sleepless nights of dostoevsky is really very successful. We're totally there, although things separate these two stories. Special mention to the mythological scene, which refers to the myth of the creation of the world according to Hindus where the Brahma God commits incest with his daughter ushas (don't go to imagine dirty things on this scene! I see you already coming! ). It's an aesthetically perfect scene both at the level of the frame and the composition of the plans, that at the level of the choreography totally controlled, very sensual and really sublime (you won't be able to understand this scene only by watching this film, which I advise you Can't wait). Scenes filmed as a documentary in the middle of the documentary archives are very about. They anchor the film in reality and thus confuse fiction and real, which gives more magnitude to the film and its history. On the other hand, archive images are very shocking, sensitive souls abstain! Little Reproach: the end twist that I didn't necessarily appreciate, because a little too "already-seen". but it doesn't take away anything from the quality of the film in its entirety and mainly to its photography all in contrasts that will know, I am convinced, delight your eyes of seasoned movie lovers."