Art & Entertainment

'A Lullaby For Yellow Roses' Movie Review: Touching Story Of How Grief Brings This Working-Class Couple Closer

Directed by Rahul Roye, 'A Lullaby For Yellow Roses' takes you into the life of a migrant working-class couple. Is the film worth watching? Does it show the reality? Read the full review to find out.

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A still from 'A Lullaby For Yellow Roses'
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After Rahul Roye made the critically acclaimed queer short film, ‘Man & Wife’, they have come forward with their second short film. ‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’ premiered at the Oscars and the BAFTA qualifying Flickerfest in Australia this year. The film was selected at the Brussels Short Film Festival, the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, the Kaohsiung Film Festival, and the Dharamshala International Film Festival. The promising filmmaker has always pushed boundaries with their filmmaking. In ‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’, they continue to do the same. Here’s all that you need to know about the film.

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‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’: Story

A migrant working-class couple, Pankaj and Beena, lose their unborn daughter to the patriarchal norms of society. This loss haunts them both. Cracks in their relationship begin to show as the loss affects them on individual levels. Beena thinks that Pankaj is behind this loss. But little does she know that Pankaj is also a victim of the patriarchal norms. Unable to bear the loss, she tries to take her life but she fails. It is during their wedding anniversary that this tragedy brings them closer, and they try to tie the loose ends.

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‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’: Performances

Trimala Adhikari plays the role of Beena with the gentleness that her role demands. She runs the risk of being ignored in the film because she does not have a lot of dialogue. However, her body language and the way she expresses herself with her eyes say much more than she could have with dialogue. She listens to the taunts her mother-in-law throws at her, but she doesn’t answer back. Through her effortless acting, you can figure out that her mind is not quiet. She has a multitude of things on her mind. There’s a scene in the film where she undoes a yellow dress that she had knitted for her unborn daughter. She isn’t speaking anything in that scene. She hides it when her husband enters and goes back to doing her chores. The scene moves you.

Coming to Somnath Mandal, he plays the role of Pankaj with perfection. In one scene, he’s smoking a cigarette while his wife is in the bathroom after her suicide attempt. He breaks down thinking about the loss. It is in this moment that his raw vulnerability shines and starts to tug at your soul. This scene helps you understand how even he is affected by the patriarchal norms. The slight awkwardness with which he gives his wife a gift on their anniversary has been captured well. As a working-class couple, anniversaries aren’t a celebration. Yet he goes out of his way to try to mend their relationship. The beauty lies in the fact that he did not go overboard with his portrayal of Pankaj.

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Uma Jhunjhunwala plays the role of an ailing mother-in-law whose ideas are rooted in patriarchy. Her character does not feel unrealistic because there are people in society who think exactly like her. Every time she taunts her daughter-in-law about the unborn daughter, you see where she is coming from. The mother-in-law is bedridden yet she is an important character. Uma understood the limits of her character beautifully and enacted it in such a way that the mother-in-law looks and feels human rather than looking like it’s straight out of a daily soap.

None of the characters looked out of place. It felt like the roles were written for them and that explains how well they have performed in this short film.

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‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

It’s difficult to capture a lot of emotions and nuances that stem from grief in a short film. But Rahul Roye has done it with grace. The story runs the risk of coming across as a PSA or making it look like Beena and Pankaj’s suffering is romanticized. However, the director has managed to move past all of that and they have presented us with a complex story that is as human as it can get. They have managed to capture the contrast between Beena and Pankaj’s life and the places where they work. The lack of space in the couple’s house is also captured well. On one hand, Pankaj is standing in his underwear changing into fresh clothing. On the other, there is the ailing grandmother who coughs and snores in her sleep. Capturing this was essential for the story. The fact that it has been done well just helps the plot move forward.

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One of the best parts about this short film is the lack of unnecessary music. Rahul Roye has used ambient sound in this film. It helps you understand where the characters are coming from. The sound of the traffic when Pankaj is fixing the scooter, the silence when Beena is undoing the knitted dress, and their sobs from inside the car keep you engaged without your mind focusing on some unnecessary music.

The dialogues are simple, but it keeps you captivated. There isn’t any preaching or any abuse. The story has been told just the way it is. Simplicity often goes a long way. The editing is seamless and every scene blends into the next without any hiccups.

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‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’: Cast & Crew

Created By: Rahul Roye

Director: Rahul Roye

Cast: Trimala Adhikari, Somnath Mandal, Bimal Giri, Uma Jhunjhunwala

Duration: 17 minutes 54 seconds

‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’: Can Kids Watch It?

Yes

Outlook’s Verdict

The story tells the tale of how women do not have agency over their bodies thanks to patriarchy. Beena feels that she is all alone in her grief. But she finds that she can share that loss with her husband, and they can start all over again. The problem with stories that are rooted in reality is that they can sometimes get over the top. The line between reality starts to blur. But Rahul Roye has walked this tightrope like a skilled artist. ‘A Lullaby For Yellow Roses’ is a beautiful story that will stay with you even after the credits have rolled. I am going with 4 stars.

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