There is an instance in Prantik Basu’s Bela — a lived-in documentary rooted in a titular village in Purulia, West Bengal — where a woman tries putting a heap of dry leaves on her head. The rigour of the act reflects the preciseness of a habit. Her hands move like responding to a cadence. And then, exhibiting a lifetime’s worth of training, takes a wooden stick and adjusts her balance. The moment plays out with such lucidity that it casts a spell, unlocking at once the gift of Basu’s artistry and the reward of watching closely.
A similar sense of