Full Circle: The fourth short in the Digestive Showtime canon turns out to be dangerously misguided in its messaging
The worst thing about Full Circle, the short film starring Sanam Saeed and Mohib Mirza may not be its flawed twist after all; it’s actually the fact that the short tried too hard to be clever; it tries to be a thriller when every single reveal or turn of event is a foregone conclusion. I consider myself a naive viewer but even I could feel the failed efforts by the makers to appear crafty and cover the dead weight of a bland screenplay with stylistic graces.
Full Circle revolves around a married couple
Sameer is a typically frustrated arrogant writer and Zehra is his dutiful yet not completely ignorant wife. The short starts with an accident in a lift causing Zehra to lose her short term memory. Now the couple has to restart their life, so to speak. I thought this would be an Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind kinda thing but with Joel and Clementine making up after the first memory wipe out session.
When The Narrative Appears Bigger Than The Actual Thing?
It says something about the short when the synopsis appears more mature than the actual film – particularly a film starring the ever reliable Sanam Saeed. She gives Zehra a credibly lost, blank aura. Mohib Mirza is off-puttingly rigid and sculpted, and thus far more convincing as a self-absorbed writer than a husband trying to rewrite history given a second chance by fate. From the flashbacks we can see that their marriage is basically a surrogate parent-child setup in which the (man) child retains the right to dominate the parent.
Digestive Showtime, with all its aggressive marketing (I am bombarded with ads on literally every social media site) and kinetic editing, has emerged as some sort of an authority, a criterion to judge all short films in the Pakistani web space that is still finding its footing. But the production house is too excited and too complacent with its grand budgets and scale to actually pay attention to the scripts.
So we had Daughter By Law ( Read: Therapist By Law) presenting us a real life twitter stalker as a protagonist; then there was 2 Sey 5, with its PG 13 aesthetics of darkness to offset the dose of Rumi Lite; and now this. Sameer and Zehra appear to reside in some cabin in the woods. When we are parachuted into their over dramatic flashbacks, they are engaged in a marital spat which looks more forced and contrived than every scene ever in a Star Plus serial.
Are The Men Getting Another Chance To Redeem Themselves?
Right in the beginning there is a foreshadowing that I overlooked. Zehra, upon reading some of Sameer’s stories, inquires why each one of his heroes is a ‘bechara‘? I thought maybe when Sameer tries to make amends later on in the film, we would witness his transformed mentality. But things take a turn for the worse when the short literally turns its male protagonist into a ‘bechara’ while the wife is left at the altar of guilt for complaining too much and rushing to take the forbidden ‘D’. She remains less of a person and more of a function, with her coming ‘full circle’ meaning coming back to square one.
As for some logical questions I had during the viewing, I am still fishing for answers. Where exactly is that postcard backdrop of a house in a city where Sameer and Zehra live? How does that house conveniently turn into an apartment building with a lift? Do they have no friends or family to tell them of their past? Where are their phones for God’s sake? Why are they wearing white in all the flashbacks? What’s up with that sound sync? Why is a manipulative husband portrayed as saviour for a vacant wife?
Why did Sanam Saeed opt for this reductive role? But credit where its due, Mukhtar Zaidi is a brilliant director saddled with a stilted screenplay. How much can a director do to inject life into a problematic story?
Alas, we would never know. All I know for sure is that when something comes full circle, it traps someone within it.
Watch The Short Film Here:
Maleeha is based in Lahore and pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She snacks on books, films, cookies and anything artistic under the Lahori hot sun. Her ultimate goal is to get a room of her own and a fixed annual income in her name (as per Virginia Wolf’s recommendation) to write forever, without falling prey to capitalist trappings. You can follow more of her ramblings on Instagram and twitter