Global Lens Film Series: 'Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights'

Petworth Library

Global Lens Film Series: 'Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights'

Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

Shyamal Uncle Turns off the Lights

Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights

Directed by Suman Ghosh. India, 2012, 65 minutes. In Bengali with English subtitles.

An 80-year-old Kolkata retiree is on a mission to get his neighborhood streetlights turned off after sunrise after he notices they stay on all day as well. A particular man, Shaymal Uncle finds his sense of propriety upset by this wasteful expense of electricity.

Getting the runaround from various authorities, he becomes quite obsessed with his goal — to the exclusion of everything else, including listening to his wife or settling accounts with the maid. Finding someone to take him seriously proves a battle against an indifferent bureaucracy and a complaisant status quo (and just maybe a welcome distraction from a dull routine).

Based on a real incident, Suman Ghosh’s verité-style film is alive with the sights, sounds, and personalities of this old Kolkata neighborhood, as his unlikely protagonist solicits information and understanding from neighbors, officials and random strangers alike — encounters that add up to a wry, revealing, and highly original tour of modern India.

Find about more screenings of Shyamal Uncle Turns Off the Lights and other films in the Global Lens Film Series.