Living in the city of London, or perhaps in any major city, there is no doubt that you would have come across a few drunks or one of the many people whose mental illness has slammed them right into the middle of the streets, ranting away at seemingly nothing. Though the main panic, worry or struggle is to ignore them, it seems that they are inescapable, possibly even harmful. Actually most of the time, it’s a matter of personal space being invaded, with very few instances leading to violence. Even then, it is incurred because irritation over-boils and anger between many parties prevails. All of the time, however, it can be said that those are following the path of their own beat.
Which is, presumably, the titular reason for this 2013 short from Aneil Karia. Starring Ben Whishaw, Beat follows the journey of a young man who takes to the streets of England’s capital, dancing erratically to music unheard. Though it may start pretty innocuous at first, it soon irks and invades those around him who take offence to his irritating presence their lives.
Aneil Karia, whose efforts in music videos transcends over to here, has neatly written and directed an empowering short about this man is dancing without giving any explanation as to why. After all, it isn’t as though we need it. Allusions at the beginning that this isn’t his first encounter with the wrong end of a fist and a naughty silent confrontation with a cereal box offers no answers. That, in itself, is simply divine. Beat relies heavily on the central performance and the stripping away of exposition allows us, the audience, familiar with encounters such as this, to delve into this man’s world and mind-set. Whishaw is evocative here. His acting excels, transforming a nameless face into an entrancing eccentric character that is clearly battling many demons, and ultimately succumbing to the music in his head. It is eloquent, poetry set to electric drums and bagpipes, a juxtaposition against the rest of the world.
Karia has, in turn, mapped a long career here alongside his other short Tag (which I urge you all to watch). In Beat, he astutely carves the trembling core of a being not musically matched with the rest of the word. With Whishaw’s character, endearingly and provocatively taking to the streets, held capably in Karia’s creative decisions, whether it is through the score or the grimy confrontations of London, Beat certainly thuds with brilliance.
Beat is now available on We Are Colony.