Shorts are more fun, and more difficult to watch. What I find most disconcerting about watching shorts is having to switch off from one story and pay attention to the other. There's no scope for mulling over the film you just saw. But then, it's that much more of a cinematic experience.
Co-produced by Anurag Kashyap's AKFPL, the films delve into uncomfortable issues like abuse, strains in a marriage, death, love and the parent-child equation. Helmed by different directors, curiously, there's no female director among the list, and all films choose to explore dark themes. Here's the lowdown.
Sujata (directed by Shlok Sharma) is about a girl (Huma Qureshi) who has escaped her abusive cousin. The story takes off when, after a two-year hunt, he manages to find her, surprisingly living 10 minutes from his house.
Masterfully enacted, superbly written, and technically proficient, this short leaves you moved. You wish you could see more of this character and her story.
Epilogue (directed by Siddharth Gupta) is a creepy look at relationships. Richa Chaddha (superb) plays a surreal character - a disgruntled wife, who takes great pleasure in annoying and teasing her superficially restrained husband.
So she appears in the fridge when he's reaching for a bottle of water, messes up his Scrabble game, sits at the edge of the window. It's a claustrophobic relationship that has the viewer gasping for breath. The end is too convenient, but it's a riveting tale nonetheless.
Audacity (directed by Anirban Roy) goes inside a middle-class Bengali home and is the only story with a bit of black humour. A rock music-loving girl talks back to her father leading to her getting grounded. It's unfair, you can see. Her father with his daily dose of friends, drinks and cards is the bigger nuisance.
The door remains closed. But then, two days later, the girl won't open the door at all. It's a simple story, simply told. The end is quite priceless.
Mehfuz (directed by Rohit Pandey) trails the life of a grave-digger (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his noticing a woman with a shiny hair-clip. He cleans himself up a little (the best scene of this short) to impress her a bit.
But there's a twisted coincidence in store. The film is a tad predictable, but Nawazuddin makes it worthwhile.
Shor (directed by Neeraj Ghaywan) has a couple on the brink. Originally from Benares, the couple has moved to Mumbai. The family is now grappling with the husband losing his job, the wife strained with work outside and at home, and the mother-in-law who's hell-bent on creating problems between the two.
And then, one incident changes it all. With excellent acting, characterisation and atmospherics, this proves to be one of the best shorts.
With excellent stories and some masterful acting, this ensemble of short films could be just what you've been looking for. We don't get to watch films like these every day. Consider it a rare treat and soak it in.