Most of us, at some point in our lives, must have been in a situation similar to the central premise of the short film Interior Café Night. Lovers meeting for the last time before one of them leaves the city for good. Despite assurances of making it work, the heart knows that things won’t be the same anymore. So one of them spell out their worst fear: “What if you meet someone else?

Adhiraj Bose’s 13-minute film is able to convey that queasy, terrible and strangely impotent feeling of letting love slip away. And much of it owes to the emotional interaction of the young lovers, played wonderfully by Naveen Kasturia and Shweta Basu Prasad. Especially the way Kasturia channels the vulnerability of a sensitive Indian ‘man-boy’ unable to handle the impossible pain of separation. Basu, who has delivered memorable performances as a child actor in Makdee and Iqbal, seems to have grown into a competent actress.

Ironically, I felt lesser about the parallel, and in fact, the more important track between the characters played by Naseeruddin Shah and Shernaz Patel, who share the warmth of an old relationship. Shah plays the owner of a quaint café who one day before shutting shop finds her former lover occupying one of the tables. He joins her and a conversation begins. Both the actors are expectedly very good—especially Shah who is a delight to watch playing an unmarried, Bohemian café owner, a character variations of which we have seen him playing before. The familiarity becomes bit of a problem. As the film approaches its final minutes, it becomes clear that the café is less a café and more a symbol, the inner theatre of the protagonist’s mind. It is constructed by nostalgia like old Hemant Kumar songs and the best bread pudding in India. Bose doesn’t allow it to get all syrupy by maintaining a light tone. Although I wish the space had more texture than the faux stone wall panel. The setting of Kolkata also seems ornamental. It almost could have been any other city and it wouldn’t have made any difference.

One vital thing we expect from a short film or short story is a twist in the tale or a final punch at the end. It comes a little too soon in Interior Café Night, and it’s not entirely satisfying.

Interior Café Night can be viewed on YouTube.

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