Originally Appeared in Film Inquiry
I adored Colour Me Brown by Juggy Sohal for multiple reasons, with the major one being how simple yet powerful it is. While the film could be termed yet another YouTube video, the heart succors this in getting rid of the label. Speaking about one’s race and the associated complications of being different, the short is a personal, self-reflective, if not deep, a conversation between a UK-born Indian (voiced by Sohal) and his therapist (played by Parvinder Shergill).
This tiny film is yet another proving instance of how cinema, the marriage of audio and visuals, remains the most potent story-telling medium. Minimalistic in nature, the script of the film, which heavily relies on voice narration could have been a heart-felt essay or a thread of tweets for that matter. But Sohal’s choice of going for an audio-visual medium to share the same story enhances the impact to a great extent. I don’t mean essays lack the power or heart, but the visual medium is more direct and allows the creator to precisely channel his vision, unlike words that hinge on the reader’s imagination. In a film, though, we see and hear what the filmmaker wants us to.
Visuals Overs Words
Like in the film, when Sohal tells his therapist how he was called a black banana in school, for being the only brown-kid, we actually see a banana tainted in black falling on a road. Moments later, as he tells his self-confidence took a severe beating due to the remark, we see the banana being crushed by a car. It’s not subtle, but it hits the point home. Structured as a virtual therapy session, I found it smart to have a therapist listening to the narrator’s contemplation for two reasons. One, it adds a narrative layer to what could have been a straight-forward experience-sharing to the viewer. Two, it hints at the long-term consequences of such childhood memories. It’s surprising how much the film packs in less than three minutes, from accepting one’s own identity although most of them are only touched upon. If I have an issue with the film, that has to be the title animation, which kind of confines it to the Youtube video zone for the time being.
Colour Me Brown archives what the creator set out to do: To share his personal story and map it on a broader scale. While it may not be path-breaking to the form, it will surely inspire many more people to tell their own stories through the audio-visual medium.