Four beautiful, meaningful short films – Sepia, Adheen, Siblings and Nawab – premiered at the 21st edition of JIO Mami Film Festival in Mumbai by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films, its Short Film Category partner for the fourth consecutive year. After popular films like Rogan Josh, Juice and many others, Large Short Films has successfully established itself as the platform for filmmakers to showcase their talent, albeit within a short time frame.
Creating an impact in the minds of people merely within, say, 20 minutes is no mean feat. Establishing the character, showcasing the story and leaving audiences awed in the end, all within that time frame, requires an acute understanding of emotions and the ability to translate it on-screen.
Vir (Neeraj Pradeep Purohit) and Meera (Anupriya Goenka) in Adheen are two characters just like most people staying away from their families. They hardly have time to meet or call their parents, always too busy. However, the dilemma they are faced with in this short film is one of a kind. They have a bedridden mother who their father Rajendra (Sanjay Mishra) has been taking care of and reached a breaking point doing it. He does something absolutely unforeseen and forces his negligent son and daughter to take a decision that will not just test them but be on their conscience forever. The siblings bickering, trying their best to transfer the blame on the other person and justify their own actions is so relatable. The father’s helplessness, sadness and disgust, revealed in an epic monologue shook us to our core.
Siblings is Sheetal Menon’s directorial debut and a brilliant one at that. Intense and emotionally all consuming, the short film shows the relationship between two sisters. Sheetal Menon’s character takes care of their father who has been in coma for 18 months and their grandmother, while working for a startup from home. She tries to date but in vain. Shivani Taksale’s character is the sister who earns the bread for the family and prioritises them over her boyfriend who breaks up with her for that very reason. Not only do they face financial crunch due to burgeoning medical expenses but emotional upheaval too. Confrontations, heartbreaks and disappointments form the crux of this hard-hitting short film. They hope for the worst, but will they lend a helping hand for that?
Another Aparshakti Khurana starrer at MAMI, Nawab, talks about not abandoning pets because of inane reasons, because you would never abandon your kids, would you! It gives the message in a non-preachy way. Aparshakti’s character is splitting with his wife after 7 years of being together, much to his disappointment. When the question of keeping the pet dog Nawab arises, the responsibility falls on the husband. He tries his best to get rid of the dog, including leaving him at the dog shelter and even in the middle of the road. With Mallika Dua and Maria Goretti’s characters unknowingly making him see what he really wants, this short film is funny and peppered with emotions at the same time.
Sepia is about an actor Ruhaann Saddana (Aparshakti Khurana) and his journalist fiancé Kaavya Prabhakar (Sapna Pabbi) who have moved to Mumbai. All for women empowerment, Kaavya runs a digital magazine on the subject. The short film beautifully talks about holding on being absolutely crucial and the most difficult part of making a relationship work and letting go being the easier bit; about wanting to be together being more important than being meant to be so. Definitely glossier than the other short films we have been seeing, this one seems to have raised the production value bar for short films in India.
The gender balance. Two of the four films, Nawab and Siblings, are by women and the other two, Sepia and Adheen, are directed by men. After decades of being primarily a male bastion, this is such a welcome change in films.
All four films revolve around various kinds of relationships – romantic, familial and even one with pets – stir a flurry of emotions.
Actors in all the short films are brilliant, to say the least, but the acting prowess of Sanjay Mishra in Adheen and Shivani Tanksale in Siblings is just spellbinding.
What’s Blah: Nothing.
Parting Shot: The four films – Sepia, Adheen, Siblings and Nawab – were worth every second of our undivided attention.
Cast & Crew:
Director: Archit Kumar
Cast: Aparshakti Khurana, Sapna Pabbi
Director: Yash Verma
Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Neeraj Pradeep Purohit, Anupriya Goenka
Producer: Bejoy Nambiar
Director: Sheetal Menon
Cast: Sheetal Menon, Shivani Tanksale
Director: Mansi Jain
Cast: Aparshakti Khurana, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan, Mallika Dua and Maria Goretti
These short films would be released soon on Large Short Films Channel