Adapted from the short story – A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri, from the book of Interpreter of Maladies, the film draws inspiration in its plot and structure. The narrative revolves around a couple, a husband and wife, who over a period of 5 days, courtesy nightly blackouts, get to talk after almost 6 months. These power cuts bring Shobha and Shukumar together for a series of secrets and confessions being shared after the birth of their still born child. Darkness provides a refuge, an alternative reality where Shobha and Shukumar’s fear, grief, and insecurities don’t stand in the way of opening up to one another. It becomes clear their emotional estrangement began much before the loss of their child. The intimacy of sharing meals together leads to truths they are not prepared for. By the end of the confessions, the two weep together, “for the things they now knew.”
The themes outlined in this film are grief, alienation and deception. People who suffer the loss of a loved one often go through a period of not wanting to go on living themselves. Sadness may drown out all positive emotions. Symbols of darkness and food are used to bring out the relationship dynamics between the two. Shobha and Shukumar do not attempt to comfort or support each other. Each withdraws from the relationship, and they endure their grief as if they are two strangers living in a boarding house. In the story by Lahiri, the couple reunites whereas in the film, Shobha engineers her final separation from him, leading to a series of confessions leaving them despicable.