The movie Ayneh (1997) follows the path of a little girl trying to get home. The movie plays with paradoxical ideas between a choreographed, directed script and an impromptu twist where the protagonist refusing to act.It almost gives an alter ego to the story, running comparisons between how the girl interacts with different people in two different ways; one while playing a confused first grader searching for her mother, and the second one playing a confident second grader sure of where she needs to reach. One of the most interesting elements of the movie is the role of the camera. In the second half, the presence of the camera becomes extremely conscious, and it inhabits the role of a character itself. At all times we see the protagonist through the sneaky, stalking lens of the camera, which adds a distinguishable quality to the movie.
Even the contrasts of how spaces are depicted and shown is sharp. While the script was in play, all the places were being shown from the perspective of the little girl , and somewhat larger than life. When the girl had to describe a certain place, she did it in a more comic manner, remembering very specific symbols and forms which give a glimpse into a child’s mind. She spoke of the heart shaped arches, the fountain in the middle of the square, but could never recall any names, which helps us associate with how she perhaps views spaces around her. The other aspect which formed an ongoing link to the whole movie was the constant commentary of the ongoing football match. This commentary helped form a time dimension, perhaps 90 minutes, which helped the audience position the actions and movements within this time frame.
The role of the microphone in the movie was also unique. The constant switching on and off, the blank silences made the scenario even more impactful. The concept of being deprived of one of the key sources of information about the girl’s journey added a suspense as well as provided the space to simply absorb the situation without any noise. The movie through the microphone gave a few suggestions and indicators of the socio-cultural life of the people too. The spaces, mainly buses and taxis, give the best glimpses of overheard conversations which subtly lay out the lifestyle of the people. The discussions about the role of women in society, and the insecurities by wives regarding cheating husbands are some of the topics that have been addressed, or rather been picked up amongst the various sounds.
The second half of the film was a continuous shot, with no cuts, which added to the movement through space and time. If one is to look at the film through the lens of performance art, it fulfils the three criteria of space, time and audience, but the ‘artist’ in play raises a question whether the ‘performer’ the girl unconsciously becomes the artist, or the director even though not actually ‘performing’ becomes the artist?
Overall, to me, the movie has an extremely drifting quality. Even though the question of how she would find her way lurks throughout, somehow the presence of the camera provides a sense of security to the viewer.The essence lies in the importance given to two inanimate objects- the microphone and the camera, and the unique representation of the simple idea of being a shadow.