Keeping it short

Aug 05, 2012, 11:36 IST | Moeena Halim

Winners of Peace Shorts, a short film contest, manage to tell you a whole lot in less than five minutes

“Goodbye everyone,” a Facebook status update flashes on the screen — Suicide: Ek Koshish begins in this morbid manner, giving you the wrong idea of what’s to come in the next three minutes. But then, Yam Raj ‘likes’ that status and the light-hearted mood is set.

Although short filmmakers have touched upon suicide before, no one has taken a light-hearted stance on the topic, claims 25 year-old Sanat Prabhu. “I decided to make this film because everyone else seemed to be taking suicide too seriously. There were very serious films, which talked about the statistics of suicides and the like,” says Prabhu, who is a computer engineer-turned-filmmaker based in Mumbai.

Sanat Prabhu, computer engineer turned filmmaker, behind the camera

He shot the film on a handycam over eight hours. “Since I was using a handycam I had to rely on natural light and had to make sure I finished before sundown,” he reveals. Although he shot the film with another contest in mind, it seemed perfect for the Peace Shorts contest and Prabhu submitted it as his entry. His film came in third.

Judged by actresses Ira Dubey and Nauheed Cyrusi, Peace Shorts was a nationwide short film contest with the theme of ‘youth activism via peace and non-violence’. It was organised by De Paix Yatra in association with Shamiana, a short film-screening club. Parth Vasavada and Nitesh Square, two bikers making a road trip from Mumbai to London, will be screening the three winning films in every city they visit including Istanbul, Karachi, Kabul and London. “The idea was to provide a platform to these short filmmakers — their films will be viewed by audiences in about 50-60 cities. The films that have been selected have a universal appeal,” says Cyrus Dastur, founder, Shamiana.

Sheetal Petkar’s film Clean Sweep came in second. The film is a comment on educated people using the streets as garbage bins. Two little girls, clearly from a lesser-privileged section of society, follow a wannabe NRI around, conscientiously picking up everything he chucks to the ground. At the end of the day, the clever little girls find a way to tell to the man just what they’d been doing.

“The little girls are played by my watchman’s daughters,” reveals Petkar. The idea behind the story struck her while she was working in Hyderabad. “I worked in an IT Park and I constantly noticed how educated people threw cups and cigarettes all over the place,” she says.

The 26 year-old visual artiste is passionate about making short films. “When I lived in Hyderabad, I shot a film every weekend. Mumbai is stricter about allowing people to shoot outdoors, so it’s more difficult,” she complains.

Whims and Fancies by Shweta Iyer, which was awarded the first place, is a sweet little story. It is about a little girl who really wants a balloon but cannot afford one. Her wish is fulfilled quite unexpectedly by a young stranger who buys the balloons to pacify his angry girlfriend, who promptly refuses to accept them.

All three films can be viewed on YouTube.  

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