Rajeev Masand

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Cold and distant

 
 

Frozen

Rating: 2

May 08, 2009

Cast: Danny Denzongpa, Gauri, Aungchuk, Yashpal Sharma, Aamir Bashir

Director: Shivajee Chandrabhushan

It’s here at last, a sure-shot cure for insomnia. Frozen, which releases at cinemas this weekend, is a film that tests the patience of even the most strong-willed and artistically inclined.

Set against the stark landscape of Ladakh in the winter, and shot in stunning black-and-white, Frozen is a visually arresting but emotionally inaccessible story of survival. Danny Denzongpa stars as ageing widower Karma who scrapes out a living for himself, his teenage daughter Lasya, and her younger brother Chomo, by making apricot jam. But he’s unable to compete with others in the trade who use machines to make jam, unlike himself who must rely on manual means. Pushed to the brink of desperation by unscrupulous moneylenders who shamelessly volunteer to write off his loans in exchange for his daughter, Karma is at breaking point. When the Indian army sets base close to his house and urges him to move, all hope is lost for the family.

To give credit where it’s due, Frozen makes some important points – one’s attachment and protectiveness towards one’s home, no matter how harsh and bleak the living conditions may be; and also the conflict between simplicity and modernity. But it’s the film’s crushingly slow pace that plays villain here. Sluggish and indulgent, Frozen drags on for the longest 110 minutes of your life, even as you struggle to keep awake. The breathtaking cinematography draws so much attention to itself, you’re often distracted from the story; and in the end it’s difficult to connect with the characters and their circumstances because they don’t leave as lasting an impression as the style and the form of this film.

Danny Denzongpa delivers a moving performance as the debt-stricken Karma but he’s betrayed by a screenplay that’s too loose, and one that relies heavily on such self-indulgent tools as long silences. Director Shivajee Chandrabhushan has a relevant story to tell, but evidently, he has little interest in delivering it in a form that is accessible to most viewers. For the most part, Frozen leaves you cold, and chances are you’ll need time to defrost.

Two out of five for Frozen. Remember: go armed with lots of patience and a comfortable pillow.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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