Side A Side B is the bittersweet romantic journey of a young couple taking one last 44-hour train trip together with their cat Lou, from Guwahati to Mumbai, as the fate of their relationship hangs in the balance. The musical, which plays out through ten songs, captures the many moments, both past, present, and future, between the young lovers. The tracks take us on a journey of the pair, who are torn between ambition and growing distance as Joel and Shivi realise they might be headed in different directions. But, does their harmony come together, or does it go into a different key? You will have to find out!
Fascinatingly, the movie was mostly shot on a train over 44 hours. Director Sudhish Kamath said, “This is nothing short of a miracle if you consider eight people got on a train, shot a movie with live music with young musicians, who rehearsed for weeks to be able to shoot the film in the course of 44 hours.” Oh, by the way, it was shot on two mobile phones! Yes, really!
The fact that it was filmed on the train, with the actors singing live, is one of the things that makes this film so unique, so remarkable, and incredibly good. The scenes on the train have this intimate focus on these two characters’ relationship, which really makes it feel authentic and so honest. You are there in that cabin with them – Feeling what they feel, hearing their pain, experiencing their frustration, and knowing they love.
Sudhish Kamath’s story was so well written, told, and played. I was fully all-in on this couple’s relationship journey, and I was not sure who I thought was right. Maybe they both were in the end. I am awed by the performances, both acting, and singing; he got out of these actors in such a small space in such a small time period, with such an emotional story to tell. Those 44 hours were very well spent. I would love to see what ended up on the cutting room floor. Yes, I liked it that much.
Kamath’s Side A Side B is an innovative movie that brings a new type of filmmaking to the screen, and that is what makes it so good! It is a story told in the present train journey, with flashes of their past and sneak peeks into their future. It was a very imaginative way to present this story, and I loved how it all weaved together. The way he layered the story, the editing, the fantastic panel shots on the screen that had both past and present, and at times future, was skillfully and brilliantly presented. I liked that it was not presented entirely linearly. Some parts that I thought were the past may have been when the journey was over. I need to watch it again to see if that is true. Add in the home movie feel at times and the perfect music, and you have something refreshingly new. I have never seen a film like this before, and I cannot wait to see what he will bring to the screen next.
Mr. Kamath, nice touch with Schrödinger on the side of the cat box.
One of the additions to the film I really liked is the scene changes showing a tape cassette with the name of the song… very retro in feel, it brought it all together, set the tone, and you felt like you were watching a mixed tape come to life.
One criticism that may be nitpicking is that there was often a transition of fast forward or rewind sound and inserted graphic that took me out of the story. It was an interesting way to add something new, but it did not work. I saw what they were trying to do, but it was distracting, and I did not want to be; I wanted it to play on.
The music, oh the music by Sudeep Swaroop, is so, so, so, so good. It takes the film to an 11 if you all will forgive me using this. The ten tracklist features lyrics by Kamath and film critic/filmmaker Raja Sen. The music was not only in the story, even more, it is the tale of this film. Very indie/alternative in flavor with many other influences mixed in, the music sets each scene and is often the characters’ emotional arc. From the first brilliant studio version of ‘Chup Chup Ke’ to all the songs that bring this story to a close each one is pitch-perfect. Never a false note. The live performances of the songs on the train with just the two actors and a guitar… are outstanding. So raw, genuine, and real. What a fantastic, incredibly cool way to tell this story. I applaud both Sudhish Kamath and Sudeep Swaroop. I have the album on replay, and I am sure you will want to as well.
Now we come to the performances of these two new actors. They were fabulous. I knew Shiv and Joel; they never made me feel like I was watching them play this young couple. Incredibly, it was just them in every scene. They carried this entire movie and did it without any jarring notes, both in line and lyric.
Shivranjani Singh as Shiv as the one who wants to fly was excellent. Full of passion, energy, love, overwhelming turbulent emotion, both sadness and excitement, you knew who this girl was, what she wanted to do, and perhaps eventually be. So many times, as he played, she just spoke through her body language and eyes. It was terrific. Then she began singing, and I absolutely love her voice, intonation, and the feeling she brings to each line and note. You could feel her wanting to say and sing more, to burst out and to soar. When her vocals do, he and we are stunned. She says, ‘You always take over and change my song ‘… a beautiful line and so indicative of her feelings and what she wants. She is amazing. I cannot wait to see her do more. And hear Shivranjani Singh sing more.
Rahul Rajkhowa is the driving force in many scenes because that is who Joel is. The character has this assurance that he knows what he wants, knows what they want, steadfast in his love, but underneath, you can see his vulnerability, pain, and the feeling he knows it all may change. He delivers a fabulous performance. One scene that comes to mind is when she sings her last song to him… The change you see and feel through the screen is impressive. Not a word is said, but you know. He brings the music… both through his superb guitar playing and his brilliant vocals that range from deep, to funny, to dynamic, to emotional, and everything in between. Rahul Rajkhowa, a guitar, and these songs – just wow! He completely was Joel in every moment. I look forward to seeing this young actor in more roles and hearing more songs.
I could actually go on and on about their performances, but this is a film that needs to be experienced. Their story needs to play out on the tracks.
Side A Side B is one of the most creatively imaginative, and I have to use cool again because it just is, unconventional in the perfect way, films that I have ever seen. In essence, it is a love song. Sometimes a movie comes along that makes you sigh with emotion, both happy and sad at the incredible journey you just were taken on – Side A Side B is one of those movies. It stays with you. To me, I can give no higher compliment than to say what makes an incredible movie to me is that I want to see it again before it fades to black. To see more, hear more, and experience this tale all over again, that is what happened with Side A Side B.
I loved the words and the music of this film. I highly, highly recommend you watch this now!
Side A Side B is now playing on T-Series YouTube for free! Just hit play!