Winning review at 'The Times BFI London Film Festival': Frozen
by Elizabeth Menon

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Frozen is a story told from a young girl's perspective

Frozen is a film which makes the audience transfixed to their seat till closing credits disappear! It shows the brilliance of the black and white landscape, and the directorial restrain in bringing the conflict between individuals and society. Frozen tells the story of an aging father Karma, his teenaged daughter Lasya and her 'little brother' Chomo. And the story is told through Lasya’s eyes.

The action takes place in Ladakh, Indian side of Jammu-Kashmir border, 15000 feet above sea level in freezing conditions at 30 degree below. Lasya grows up watching her father making apricot jam and selling his product at the local market place. Unfortunately, he is unable to compete with others in the trade, as they use machines to make jam. Karma is in financial ruin, having to borrow from unscrupulous money lenders. Their simple lives are shattered by the arrival of the army that protects the frontier and sets up a camp close to their house. Karma is asked to take his children and leave his ancestral home, which brings him close to a breaking point. Amidst all this, Lasya is blossoming into a very attractive woman and she is encountered by a local boy Romeo. Karma is oblivious to his daughter growing up, till one of the money lenders tells him that he is willing to forget the money in exchange for her! The turmoil of the financial ruin, worrying about his daughter's safety and having to move out of his safe haven play havoc on the aging Karma. Unexpected disaster sets in and Lasya runs away to escape from it all, only to be stopped by a barbed wire…

The title is quite apt for the film, as it reflects the terrain and the landscape. At the same time it reflects the slow pace and the almost frozen state of mind of its characters. Even the traditional festival of chimes and magic wheels appear frozen in time and stripped off their colour. It is not till the end that we understand that the little boy is not real. The images of black and white and the brilliant yellow-golden colour outside the barbed wire represent well the rawness and harshness of life, giving way to change and a better life. It is Shivajee Chandrabhusan’s debut film, which demonstrates how a simple story can be made into a powerful mesmerizing film. Cinematography by Shanker Raman is at its best and the ice-hockeyscene is perhaps the first in Indian cinema. Music by John P. Varkey from Kerala brings warmth to the frozen landscape. It's also Danny Denzongpa's 150th film and he has given his best performance. Gouri in her debut appearance has shown great acting ability and Angchuk as the little boy is a delight to watch.

A must for all cinema lovers!

© E Menon

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