How the supernatural in Adil Hussain’s Nirvana Inn stems from the real

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Sandhya Mridul in a still from Nirvana Inn. Bhoot (ghosts and the past) haunt Jogi. The taut and gripping narrative owes it to its women. The music, like in The Shining, has a character of its own, jarring in bits, palpably ominous, builds up the atmospheric eeriness, reaching a crescendo. Though the road may be a little bumpy, the ride is notches above his first outing. Don’t let the stories and pretty lights fool you.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Liberation awaits the immersing of inner demons. Cinema should tell by not revealing. A suicidal boatman on Majuli island, he’d capsized his vessel, apparently killing the passengers (the director drew the idea from the 2015 Germanwings Flight 9525 crash), who visit this purgatory to make him own up his crime. Jayapal’s Tamil-Malayalam bilingual became a Hindi film with Adil’s entry, Kerala became Assam, and sattriya/bhaona replaced Kathakali, since he had 15 days, not six months, to prepare. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App. Leela also means creation/cosmos, and, like the others, she never leaves, the filmmaker has been at the inn, perhaps, from a time before Jogi. Mohini, the classic imperil – though no sleazeball – and like the creepy children of the dead family that checks into Nirvana, is typical of the horror genre. Jogi, like Srikanta (Adil’s 2004 Bengali debut Iti Srikanta), is “scared… can’t really stay alone when (he) ought to”, what haunts the two are a world apart. The inn and caretaker motifs in Nirvana Inn are unmistakably a hat-tip to the Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1980). Written by Tanushree Ghosh

Updated: December 9, 2020 2:07:06 pm

Adil Hussain’s Nirvana Inn will stream on Cinemapreneur.Having just emerged from the cheer of his Netflix show Delhi Crime winning an International Emmy award, Adil Hussain is ready with an OTT release. © The Indian Express (P) Ltd


Adil Hussain In Nirvana Inn, the psychological horror spills out of the inn, onto the countryside (half-imagined things appear in the forests). Adil’s Jogiraj Chakraborty or Jogi (pronounced Zogi in Assamese), at present, is a caretaker of Nirvana Inn – a liminal space, where, as the Eagles sang, You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave – in the hills, far removed from his past. The horror is in how patriarchy plays out, whether in seeing women as objects to be violated/saved by men, how female homoeroticism can be damaging, or possessed, feral young women to be chained and exorcised by men. Vijay Jayapal’s sophomore film Nirvana Inn (2019) is an intelligent attempt. Atonement alone can lead to nirvana (liberation/salvation). It affirms that feeling nothing — neither indifference, nor nihilistic — can be a legit feeling. It stalks him in the woods, wearing a demon mask, harking back to Jogi’s folk bhaona dance-drama days – yes, Adil danced. An actor propelled by the emotions his characters evoke, from shaanth (tranquil) to hasya (laughter), karuna (compassion) to shringar (erotic/romantic love), even roudra (fury), it’s difficult to pigeonhole him — and how we feel — in Nirvana Inn, as things get adbhutha (bizarre). In a double-treat moment, Adil has a tête-à-tête with his past self/alter ego (a Jayapal go-to, seen earlier in his debut 2016 Tamil social drama Revelations, also on The other/outsider is familiar terrain as Adil has earlier played Shem, a dkhar (half Khasi-half foreign), in the 2019 Khasi noir Lorni – The Flaneur (in Revelations, Chetan Kadambi’s Tamilian Manohar is an “other” in alien Kolkata). The film, then, is the manifestation of a survivor’s guilt, and his mental spiral. The high is in the low as the enduring (mountains) segues into the ephemeral (water). She even intoxicates Sandhya Mridul’s Leela (think shrooms, think the 2019 Midsommar). It is, to lift Adil’s words from Life of Pi (2012), “a spectacle. Words haven’t yet entered the landscape, when they do, the expository dialogues mar while the silent exchanges/one-liners elevate.×1.png
Adil Hussain in a still from Nirvana Inn. Both have already exhibited their prowess, Deshpande’s brief stints with Sexy Durga, Sacred Games and Angry Indian Goddesses, and Mridul’s two-decade-long career, from a solid-content/acting television era (Banegi Apni Baat, Koshish-Ek Aashaa) to an Anurag Kashyap short or a Pan Nalin film. Especially Rajshri Deshpande’s Mohini (translates to temptress) – in a Menaka-Vishwamitra-way – here to break Jogi (translates to saint). The film was premiered under “A Window on Asian Cinema” section at the prestigious 2019 Busan International Film Festival, followed by a world tour, and a Best Actor win for Adil, along with his role in Prakash Jha’s Pareeksha, at the IndoGerman Film Week in September. This could be her story too, the story of a creator whose creation – even if it’s still in her head – drives her insane. Nirvana Inn works as a double bill to Adil’s 2017 National Film Award-winning Hotel Salvation (Mukti Bhawan), both as layovers to the other/after world, but unlike the former, there are no transgressions or running away in the latter. The inhabitants of Nirvana…, like the Eagles sung, “are all prisoners of (their) own device”. The “other” is always watching the “self” – a folk horror trope. Simmering beneath the surface is a Stephen-King-like invitation, “We all float down here…You’ll float, too.”
If a thriller could spook without any jump scares, this is it. It opens, in the David Lean-esque wide, establishing shot of the picturesque Naggar in Himachal Pradesh — we see a cigarette-puffing Adil run down the mountains and suddenly appear in close-up, guilt and fear written on his face. Mridul, in the second half of the film, is a revelation, the switch in her personae electric. Outside its immediate universe, the film and Jogiraj Chakraborty – a name that could be Assamese Bengali – can be read in a new light amid the NRC/CAA talks. Leela means divine play, one that is between Jogi and Mohini – the line that corporeal Jogi can’t cross, the spectral Mohini does. They can chew more than they bite. The film will have a digital release, on the pay-per-view Cinemapreneur on December 11, for 99 hours (pre-bookings are open). There’s a fight sequence, too. Rajshri Deshpande in a still from Nirvana Inn.