'Shorts' produced by AKFPL, Anurag Kashyap’s production company, is an interesting mix. Five separate short films by budding filmmakers, who came together to make this film. Saying a story in a limited time can be tricky and that perhaps was the biggest challenge for these five filmmakers.
The film starts with 'Sujata' by Shlok Sharma. Huma Qureshi (brilliant as usual) plays the title role. 'Sujata' has been subjected to constant abuse, sexual and otherwise by her cousin since her childhood. She tries escaping the trauma but he tracks her down. Finally, Sujata gets her moment of triumph. A well-written plot, aided by deft cinematography and Huma’s talent, 'Sujata' keeps you engrossed and involved.
Huma Qureshi in 'Shorts
'Epilogue' by Siddharth Gupta talks about the loneliness and despair within urban relationships. Arjun Shrivastav and Richa Chaddha play a couple, who seem to have reached the end of their dithering relationship. Richa plays the wife who is still desperately looking for attention through weird antics and Arjun plays the husband who seems to have gone beyond feeling anything for the relationship or the woman he’s with. Interesting concept but jarring editing and random close-ups kill the flow of the story. This one’s the weakest short film, in my opinion.
'Audacity' by Anirban Roy (Preeti Singh and Sankar Debnath) is a Bengali film (with English subtitles), talking about the fragile emotions of a young girl who’s upset with her father’s double standards. A well-written script peppered with black humour, Audacity talks about how an ‘audacious’ act by a teenager has the danger of turning into a catastrophe, thanks to the gossip mongers and sensation seekers in the neighbourhood. The plot of the film is simple and touching.
In 'Mehfuz' by Rohit Pandey (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), Nawazuddin with aplomb plays a gravedigger who seems to be in an exceptionally busy period, due to some vague riot scene outside, which the filmmaker didn’t think important to dwell on. Not particularly necessarily too, considering it is the journey of the gravedigger who goes from being someone akin to an invisible living ghost to a red-blooded human being when his passion is stirred. A more than convincing performance by Nawaz, who breathes life into this strange character.
Nawazuddin Siddique in 'Shorts'
'Shor' by Neeraj Ghaywan (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee and Vineet Singh) is the story of a couple from Benares struggling to make a life in a shanty in Mumbai. The husband is unemployed and frustrated and the wife goes about trying to make ends meet, even while making sure that her husband, child and her mother-in-law are fed on time. Bogged down by the pressures of their tough daily life, their marriage is breaking down when an incident shakes it out of its reverie. Handled deftly and sensitively, this story touches a chord, as it could be the story of any of us, who tend to take relationships in our lives for granted.
While 'Mehfuz' stays in your psyche longer because of its shock value and of course the presence of the inimitable Nawazuddin, 'Shor' is undoubtedly the best film of the lot because of the sincerity and the sensitivity of the script and the performances of the actors involved. 'Audacity' comes a close second.
A unique experiment, which deserves an applause.