Shivajee Chandrabhushan’s background as a photographer — and mountaineer — is evident in every frame of directorial debut “Frozen.” Striking B&W lensing of the remote Himalayan Ladakh region dominates a pic which, from its English-language credits to its guitar-based score, bears more relation to Western arthouse traditions than even the least commercial, social-realist Indian cinema. Formally impressive tale of an impoverished family in this forbidding winter landscape will attract interest from fest programmers, though commercial prospects are slim.
Aging widower Karma (Danny Denzongpa) scrapes out an existence for himself, daughter Lasya (Gauri) and her little brother Chomo (Angchuk), mostly by making apricot jam. But the thing he’s named for takes a bleak turn: Automated production steals away buyers in the nearest town; an unscrupulous lender wants all debts paid up now; and an army regiment suddenly requisitions his ancestral lands for an outpost. It becomes clear he must marry off Lasya to secure her future. But while she’s mature physically, in mind she’s childish, willful and destructive. Shanker Raman’s script leaves a less lingering impression than his cinematography, the textural cornerstone of the helmer’s striking if somewhat emotionally distanced package.