Ribbon is a subtly played yet on-your-face act of life that does not yell melodrama for a minute and breathes realism in every frame! In fact, it is a poignant and matured study of life’s struggles in the Maximum City (or for that matter any other city) where young working couples go through the grinding ups and downs of life and its various shades and yet keep going on, just like a rolling reel of a ribbon!
The film works very effectively on multiple fronts:
-> This slice of life cinema tells the tale as a matter of fact without getting judgmental about why certain things happen or whose onus is it. These are characters very relatable, they are not perfect, they struggle, they lose their cool, they stand by each other as rock solid support when needed, and they also fight with each other with wild outbursts of all resentments every couple would have gone through! Co-writers Rakhee Sandilya and Rajeev Upadhyay keep all the proceedings extremely grounded and hence connect this couple to the audience right through all the trials and tribulations that they go through from beginning to end. Yes, there are scenes where the monotony of life shows up and one feels nothing much is happening, but isn’t that what life is about?
-> Shout out for the excellent work by Rakhee Sandilya, the director and her entire team! The camera work through handhelds, the neat production design gives a great sense of the cramped urban spaces, or creaky creches, reputed schools, small but thriving corporate firms and everything surrounding them! The wardrobe and styling of the leads is contemporary and is totally in sync with the tone of the film! The background score is measured and sparse as needed! The editing is lazy in parts, but I did not find the film stretched or slow for a moment! Rakhee keeps it all under her control throughout, and sucks you in to her story.
-> The biggest success of Rakhee though is the amazing performance that she extracts out of Kiearra Soni, the little child! Your heart will go out to her innocence and unadulterated smile as the story unfolds! Aashi is the hidden treasure of the film! Does not matter so much that the other side-characters don’t have much to do, or can match up to this wonderful little girl or her parents!
-> And then, we have these powerhouse performances by both Kalki Koechlin and Sumeet Vyas, who bring everything to life in Ribbon! Kalki outshines her own self in a fully author backed role, and delivers one of her best performances here! Her face and her eyes is this vivid canvas of emotions that expresses everything without effort and that is what differentiates her from the rest! But, full marks to Sumeet Vyas too – he actually gets a character arch that is not fully developed in comparison and yet excels matching up to Kalki frame by frame! I hope to see him in meatier roles in many more films to come!
If cinema means a slice of life reflection for you where problems not necessarily come to a well-defined closure, but leaves you moved and disturbed; then do give Ribbon its due! Relevant films like these ought to be made and discussed, and for that to happen, they need to be watched! It was rather sad then that one of the better films of the year was running to almost empty halls on its first Sunday afternoon! What a loss!!