The stories in Shorts range from breathtaking to borderline bizarre, writes Paloma Sharma.
The good news is that indie short filmmakers are beginning to carve a niche for themselves in an industry that is dominated by Bollywood. The bad news, however, is that the five award-winning films included in Shorts range from breathtaking to borderline bizarre.
Shorts comprises of an anthology of the following five unrelated short films produced by Anurag Kashyap's AKFPL and Tumbhi:
Starring Huma Qureshi in the title role, Sujata narrates the story of a young girl abandoned by her guardians at her paternal aunt's home, left at the mercy of an abusive cousin brother.
As she grows older, the abuse grows more and more violent until it reaches a point where she decides enough is enough.
Receiving no help from any quarters, she decides that justice cannot be left to higher forces.
Qureshi does complete justice to the character she portrays, cautiously toeing the line between frailty and the survival instincts of an abused woman.
Narrow spaces and crumbling structures haunt the frames. However, the film does get a wee bit predictable towards the end. Director Shlok Sharma tells his tale with honesty and no fanfare, which is a refreshing change.
Epilogue by Siddharth Gupt explores the dynamics of a relationship that's nearing its breaking point.
Starring Richa Chaddha and Arjun Shirvastav, Epilogue depicts the need for control, intimacy and space in a relationship and explores the human fear of choosing between being alone and being unhappy.
The most commendable part of this short is its camerawork.
The tight closeups convey the claustrophobia that the male protagonist feels due to his possessive lover -- much like the ones from Anurag Kashyap's own That Girl In Yellow Boots.
That aside, Epilogue does not manage to convey its message clearly. Perhaps it takes a more intellectual mind to understand the play of symbols and metaphors that the direct incorporates in the story, I cannot say.
To me, Epilogue was weird yet wonderful (and yet) weird. I'd think a bit before stepping into the theater again for this one.
Anirban Roy's Audacity deals with 13-year-old Lily's love for her American dance music and her father's disapproval of it.
Lily is your average teenager and has a bedroom plastered with Cheri Moon posters, posters which she emulates in her hair and clothing. Her father forbids her from playing the music or dancing to it. An argument ensues and Lily plots her revenge.
A beautifully executed work of fiction, Audacity portrays the subtle nuances of thought that emerge when a young person clashes with an authoritative figure. Though the film is in Bengali, don't let the subtitles keep you from watching it.
Audacity, resting squarely on the shoulders of its young heroine, just might be the best film of this anthology.
Mehfuz takes place on the outskirts of a nameless city, in an unspecified time, where violence is rampant and the dead are in abundance.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a man whose job is to burn the unclaimed dead bodies that come to him in the back of a truck, often in the dead of the night.
On one such night, he spots a beautiful stranger wandering the streets. Unbeknownst to him, his destiny becomes intertwined with hers.
Director Rohit Pandey takes his audience into the murky realms of the unknown and makes them confront the inevitable reality of death, treating love and loss as transitional phases.
With almost no dialogues, Nawazuddin Siddiqui tells the story better than words could ever sum up. Although the climax is a predictable one, Meehfuz is a journey that should not be entered into merely for reaching the destination.
Shor is as real and loud as Mumbai itself.
Set against the paradox of a city that offers both unimaginable riches and mass-scale poverty, Neeraj Ghaywan's Shor is the story of a Banarasi couple -- Lallan and Meena -- who must do whatever it takes to survive in the city.
But survival begins to reveal the cracks in their lives and their marriage.
Can one phone call, made while making his peace with his death, change things between Lallan and his wife for the better?
Neeraj Ghaywan does not shy away from portraying poverty, class and caste as they are. Vineet Singh and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee (Lallan and Meena, respectively) do a brilliant job of bringing the writer's and director's vision to life.
Torn between dreams and survival, Shor could easily be the story of one of the millions of nameless, faceless couples trying to make their marriage work in trying times.
All in all, Shorts is a welcome change from the usual Friday fare but it isn't quite there yet.
Nevertheless, it does leave one with some very powerful images and is worth a shot.