Assistant Professor of Film/Media Ashish Avikunthak released his third feature-length film this year, Rati Chakravyuh. The film, which took three weeks to write and two days to shoot, is a 102-minute single-shot conversation between six newlywed couples and a priestess. The single, continuous shot gives time precedence over narrative, creating Avikunthak’s trademark “cinema of temporality.” The conversation carries themes of life, death, and religion, as well as Indian history and cultural traditions.
Avikunthak’s feature-length and short films have been exhibited in New York, Paris, London, Calcutta, Bangkok, Toronto, Singapore, and Berlin, to name just a few. It’s difficult to find a place on the map where Avikunthak has not shown his work.
Rati Chakravyuh screened for six weeks at Gallery Chatterjee & Lal in Bombay, for three weeks at Experimenter Gallery in Calcutta, and for three days at Viswabharti University in Shantiniketan. The film will open in America on October 22 at Aicon Gallery in New York, where it will be screened for two weeks. Rati Chakravyuh has been reviewed extensively in numerous art and culture publications, including Art Slant India, Platform Magazine, and Indian Express.
But popularity and critical acclaim were never Avikunthak’s goals. For him, it seems, aiming for popularity would muddy the purity of his art. He condemns the market society as a system where “market incentives . . . come to dominate all aspects of life.” He refuses to contribute. “My art is not for sale”, he says. “For me, this is a moral choice, an ethical choice.”
When asked how he feels about the success of Rati Chakravyuh, he says, “I don’t feel anything. This is the destiny of the film.”
Story by Emma Clarke, 2016