Global Lens Film Series: 'Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights'
Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights
Directed by Suman Ghosh. India, 2012, 65 minutes. In Bengali with English subtitles.
An 80-year-old Kolkata retiree is on a mission to get his neighborhood streetlights turned off after sunrise after he notices they stay on all day as well. A particular man, Shaymal Uncle finds his sense of propriety upset by this wasteful expense of electricity.
Getting the runaround from various authorities, he becomes quite obsessed with his goal — to the exclusion of everything else, including listening to his wife or settling accounts with the maid. Finding someone to take him seriously proves a battle against an indifferent bureaucracy and a complaisant status quo (and just maybe a welcome distraction from a dull routine).
Based on a real incident, Suman Ghosh’s verité-style film is alive with the sights, sounds, and personalities of this old Kolkata neighborhood, as his unlikely protagonist solicits information and understanding from neighbors, officials and random strangers alike — encounters that add up to a wry, revealing, and highly original tour of modern India.
Find about more screenings of Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights and other films in the Global Lens Film Series.