A short film for me, is the purest form of filmmaking. It empowers a filmmaker to be true and honest. I really think there is a big future for short films,” writer-director-producer and now actor, Anurag Kashyap opined at the discussion that followed the screening of four short films in the Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films Category at the Mumbai Film Festival.
This particular category has short films competing against each other and a three-member jury judging them. Out of the 19 short films in the competition this year, four are large short films directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, Sujoy Ghosh, Mansi Nirmal Jain and Chaitanya Tamhane.
The directors were present at the screening along with their eclectic star cast comprising Anurag Kashyap, Shefali Shah, Tisca Chopra and Saurabh Shukla. Anurag, who has acted in Jain’s short film Chhuri, joked about how he was petrified of kissing his co-actor in the film.
“Every time I see myself on screen, I go ‘why?’. Every time I hear my voice, I am like ‘what is this?’,” said Anurag, who confessed that he was all the more scandalised to make out on screen. “We all have inhibitions. This was a very strange and surreal experience for me. It opened up something in my head and changed me as a person,” he added.
The film is based on a real life incident involving an extra marital affair.
On the other hand, Neeraj Ghaywan’s short film Juice revolves around families where men drink and eat in air-cooled living rooms and the women sweat it out in the kitchen without a fan. It stars Shefali Shah as the woman who dares to do something that no woman in this patriarchal circle has ever done.
“I grew up very privileged and pampered with two elder sisters. So the realisation about patriarchy and how internalised it is within both men and women, happened over time. What we are trying to show in this film is how patriarchy is not just related to men. In most cases, women perpetrate it,” Neeraj informed.
Talking about her character of a housewife, Shefali revealed, “Although I am very different from my character Manju with respect to the language and mannerisms, I am really good with all the cooking and cleaning. My husband says I am not an actor. I am a bai. So this is how you would see me at home.”
Sujoy Ghosh’s film Anukul is a futuristic take on Satyajit Ray’s 1976 short story by the same name. It is the story of a Hindi teacher (Saurabh Shukla) who brings home a robot ‘Anukul’ as his help. “It’s been 40 years for this story but I have always wanted to make it. It comes from the greed of making good stories. The film primarily talks about dealing with technology, which is coming at us so quickly. Should we be scared?” questioned Sujoy, who also mentioned that he has lived with this particular story by Satyajit Ray since childhood.
The fourth film in the category was an animation flick called Death of a Father, directed by Chaitanya Tamhane (of the Marathi film Court fame) and illustrated by Somnath Pal, who believes that the film narrates his own story. “There was a huge age difference between my father and me. When he was 70, I was already preparing that he would leave us any time. He died at 80,” recalled Pal. In the absence of Tamhane, Pal further elaborated on the theme of death that the film deals with. “Death has always been made out to be very dramatic. On the contrary, I found it to be really mundane. With all the rituals and people around, you don’t get the time to internalise it,” he pointed out.
As opposed to the general perception of animation being only for children, Death of a Father is also an attempt to use the medium of animation to make something for adults. What more? The illustrations are in the traditional 2D Classical format. “I like the idea of drawing frame by frame, just the way the old masters used to do,” the storyteller, illustrator and designer shared before concluding the discussion.