Friday, 15 November 2013
Mathematician and film theorist turned filmmaker Darezhan Omirbaev continues to reside on the fringes despite being the most important Kazakh director working today, perhaps on account of the collapse of the Central Asian country’s film industry; no wonder his filmography continues to remain so criminally obscure. The spare, stripped-down aesthetics of his whimsical slice-of-life debut film Kairat, with a wry sense of humour neatly accompanying bleak visuals, underplayed narrative style and unencumbered depiction of mundane everyday life, had a distinctly East European arthouse flavour about it. Set over few days in Almaty, the largest city and former capital of the erstwhile Soviet Bloc country, it focused on the life of the film’s hapless eponymous protagonist (Kaïrat Mahmetov), a young, naïve and detached guy who has recently moved in from the provinces. We thus follow his ‘fish out of water’ experiences as he appears for his University exam with comic consequences, watches foreign movies as means of whiling time, starts taking vocational training for bus driver with the aid of a simulator, charmingly embarks on a tentative romantic tryst with a young lady (Indira Jeksembaeva) who is trying become a train stewardess, and lives in a cramped dorm where, in a display of foolish chivalry, gets into a fight with a bully. The slow pace, lack of dramatic moments, grainy B/W photography, long takes, and the feeling that nothing much is happening, might leave some viewers cold; but in a film like this, beauty lies in the details, and Omirbaev did a fine job at capturing the sight and sound of life in the city with both its alienating and idiosyncratic elements.
Director: Darezhan Omirbaev