Movie Review: A Silent Way (Ko: Yad)

Filmmaker Manju Borah attempts to showcase the everyday lives of Assam’s Mishing tribe in the film

Joshua Thomas October 25, 2022
  • Direction
  • Acting
  • Screenplay
  • Cinematography
  • Music

A Silent Way

In this social realist drama, we’re treated to a small glimpse of the everyday lives of the Mishing people in a small village in Assam. With their love for apong (a form of rice wine) and marital squabbles, we see a little of how the villagers interact and toil on a daily basis. The film’s protagonist is Paukam, a school dropout who inherits his father’s boat to earn a living gathering logs (for firewood) from the Brahmaputra. After getting married he tries to support his son’s endeavor to learn medicine, working harder every day (at the disapproval of his wife) and feels depressed and humiliated at how his efforts are underappreciated.

The tragedy of Paukam’s situation is never exaggerated cinematically or treated as melodrama. In the simple way the characters speak, there is hardly a moment when the audience isn’t explicitly told what any of the characters are feeling at any time. The edit tends to flit between scenes and skips along from Paukam’s childhood to adulthood (and various events in his life) that leaves little room to comprehend some of the actions on screen. Wonderful bits like the scene where we see Paukam’s son chasing water buffalo or when we see Paukam collecting logs are one of the few moments that lets us soak in the world of these characters. But the film, is more interested in the struggles of its lead character and little details are just incidental to the main story.

Overall, the film relies on realism and simple family drama to convey pathos, but feels rushed in its attempt to just tell the story, falling short of truly immersing us in their world.



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