One of Late Om Puri’s last works as an actor, A Million Rivers will be screened during the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) on Tuesday as a tribute to the iconic actor who passed away last month. The hour-long film will be showcased in a special package, titled ‘Cinema from the Sub-continent’, on Tuesday at the Pavilion, Cabral Yard in Kochi from 6.30pm, informed a press release.

The short feature film revolves around a broken marriage that stars actor-theatre personality Lillete Dubey as the female lead character. Puri’s character is confronted with his mortality, according to the release, and chooses not to return to his wife in this state. He instead, drifts into a kind of a fantasy land which forms the core of the issues that the film deals with.

Shot in black and white, it explores themes like violence, aggression, identity crises and fragmentation along with social issues like female empowerment. It presents memory as an elliptical reality and speaks of unrequited love through multiple points of view.

A Million Rivers still

“Om Puri seemed to work intuitively without labouring over the back story as a way to define the persona. His scenes are at times absurd, dark, thoughtful, and mostly fluctuating between that dream versus reality space as his character starts to split apart mentally and emotionally,” said director Sarah Singh, who is making her debut through A Million Rivers.

Noting that she “never really had to direct him”, Singh said, “Mr Puri seemed to enjoy doing the improv scenes. He didn’t really read the script, and would ask for a bit of scene description right before we would film a scene. When he had heard enough, he would raise his hand, gesturing ‘Okay, I understand’. In the very first take, his body language and eyes portrayed everything I was asking for and much more. I just had to create a kind of environment that suggested a certain psychological space (sic).”