Set in the politically violent times of 1947, Pankuj Parashar’s new short film Skin Of Marble is the story of Param, a Sikh man in love with a European woman named Violet. While the makers have taken the liberty to claim that they have been “inspired by the soulful writing” of the acclaimed Partition writer Saadat Hasan Manto, unfortunately, Skin Of Marble fails to represent even an iota of the kind of brilliance that Manto stood for.
Skin Of Marble begins with some random shots of newspaper clippings and a voiceover that talks about the Hindu-Muslim “nafrat ki aag” seeded by the 1947 Partition but never does this recital find relevance in the 20-minute long narrative of the short. A few more minutes are wasted dilly-dallying into the coy bedroom talks of the ‘much-in-love’ couple.
While Param appears to have forgotten the fact that he has already been engaged to a woman chosen by his family, the woman is annoyingly reticent about speaking the three golden words. Enters his father Naseeruddin Shah and along with him Param’s memory and some age-old Bollywood tropes. All Skin Of Marble remains post that is a mindless collection of done-to-death Bollywood scenes with no effort to improve proceedings on the part of the makers.
Dialogues like “I can’t marry you because you are just an Indian” are casually thrown into the narrative without serving any purpose. But the one thing that I especially have a problem with is the film’s climax. Param falls in love with Preeto’s Indian ‘sanskaars’ and values almost as miraculously as Violet is ready to sacrifice her life for the two lovers. In a horrific (not in a good way) turn of events, Violet decides to offer her ‘sangemarar badan’ to the shady fanatics and they readily take the offer. Param and Preeto cowardly run away and the camera zooms over a black and white image of Violet (her blue eyes still find a place) with blood spattered over her face. The makers have spent no time on building the character stories enough to make the plot even slightly believable.
With some feeble performances by Vivaan Parashar and Paniza Rahman, even an actor like Naseeruddin Shah is not able to add gravitas to Skin of Marble. There is no larger point that the film is trying to make with its narrative.
A generic underwhelming plot and even more tedious dialogues make Skin of Marble a pain to watch.