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LAFA Review: Doors, directed by Abhineet Gogne

Doors pulls audiences in with beautiful imagery and poetic dialogue while maintaining intriguing - albeit also frustrating - artistic ambiguity. Even with the ambiguity featured in Doors, it’s clear Abhineet Gogne is an ambitious director with perspective.

Sahib, played by Prashant Narayanan, is a young man who discovers his partner, Megha (Shilpa Shulka) is cheating on him. After which he takes a long taxi ride that doesn’t go as hoped much like his relationship with his partner. From there Sahib appears to meet up with a mysterious schoolgirl who the cab driver must have known and makes a strange connection with her.

At least, this is the takeaway if you view the movie through a linear perspective. But this is a story about many dimensions and the different possibilities that can befall us all. Never, however, is this fact revealed through exposition. Instead it is hinted at through dialogue and obscure cutaways to a void of blue and red.

While the connective tissue of the story is odd, and some of the editing choices jarring, the film is still engrossing. The cinematography is beautiful. Gogne’s interest in auteurs like Tarkovsky and Noe reflect in his shots. Stunning lush green landscapes adorn the film, and special attention is given to production design details. Doors has an organic, gritty, and intimate quality to it. In short, it’s got style.

Not only is the intimacy reflected in the cinematography, but it’s also reflected in the performances. Narayanan is sincere and relatable, even in the borderline taboo interaction he has with a schoolgirl, Chitrashi Rawat, who has a hypnotic presence. He is put through the ringer, and still attempts to do the right thing.

Much of this story seems to reflect on a theme of dharma, a principle belief in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. In Hinduism dharma is a moral law in which you embody certain virtues like truthfulness and generosity. Sahib makes a virtuous choice during his interaction with his cab driver. Megha transgresses against Sahib when she cheats. Sahib later transgresses with Chitrashi - though, she also transgresses back. There is a sense of cyclical moral conflicts throughout the movie.

A lot of Doors focuses on the moral choices we make while also reflecting on the negative and positive things that could have happened as we cross paths through life in a seemingly random, yet somehow interrelated, manner. It’s mind-bending and not just because of the trippy imagery. Its plot twists are surprisingly - well, surprising - for a slower-paced arthouse film.

Much like Eggers’ Lighthouse, the ending may leave viewers initially unsatisfied, but also much like that film, it’s more about the themes, the journey, and the experience, rather than explanation. This is a movie for the Lynchian lovers of dreams, the Tarkovsky lovers of concept, and the Noe lovers of emotional experience.

In January 2023, Doors won Honorable Mention: Indie Feature at LAFA.


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