Festival News
23 November 2023 | Article
Nehemich (2023) ‘MAMI’ Movie Review: Basu’s Short Is At Once both Contained and Expansive

In Yudhajit Basu’s short film “Nehemich,” isolation takes on myriad registers of meaning. Basu, who has co-written the film with Prithvijoy Ganguly, situates it squarely within the pressing shadow of the pandemic cast specifically on a village in Maharashtra. One of the earliest images is of men in protective gear, signaling devastation and loss. We are then jolted inside the hut where women huddle, the narrative largely circling two. They occupy the positionality of outcastes. “Touched by a crow,” as they put it in their local idiom, they are undergoing a menstruation cycle, for which they have been ejected from the community and compelled to put up for the period in this remote settlement.

An air of seclusion haunts the film, bearing the brunt of societal and the extraordinarily circumstantial. As much as the women are sequestered, they are restless for escape and release, especially the younger woman (Sakshi Dighe), desperate to elope with her lover, who works as the guard at the local windmill whose ominous connotations stick constantly.

The elder warns her to keep out of men’s way. Her future seems bound, a sadness drifting over her frame. She doesn’t express her own private feelings and fears, unlike the others, with a considerably more pronounced, raring hope to plunge out of this limited space. Her expectations seem snuffed out. There’s a suggestion of a contrast set up between the two women, one looking forward and the other wary of what lies ahead. Basu refrains from letting us too much into their backstories, allowing us to gather our own bundle of assumptions. Similarly, the women are left with no props of reliable information.

Nehemich (2023) ‘MAMI’ Movie Review

A still from Nehemich (2023)

“Nehemich” is structured around the preparation for departure. But the atmosphere of uncertainties and anxiety dents all plans. As word of a death runs rampant, the younger woman’s apprehensions tighten. Could it have been him? The film drops us into that queasy, unnerved emotional ground. The real and the imagined diffuse so does the temporal fracture into shards of grasping pockets that tremble with unease.

While Basu guides us through these wavering, fraught states of being, the dread is orchestrated through recurring symbols in the landscape, particularly the windmill. Its characteristic watchfulness accrues almost a touch of the mythic and sweeping, standing vigil over a shifting set of circumstances that are nevertheless as old as time itself. Rachit Pandey’s camerawork hovers around the female characters with a searching softly anguished intimacy. Basu’s short resists confinement; its incidentally nomadic characters, tucked away to the edges of the community, embark on journeys that might not have been what they had desired or envisaged.

Nehemich screened at the JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023.


Nehemich (2023) Movie Links: IMDbLetterboxd
The Cast of Nehemich (2023) Movie: Bhakti Makarand Athawale, Sakshi Dighe, Gadharva Gulvelkar
Nehemich (2023) Movie Genre: Short Drama, Runtime: 23 mins