Atanu Mukherjee’s award-winning short Stray Dogs, which explores hierarchies in workplaces, will be screened at the Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala this month
What happens once your personal freedom is encroached upon because of a dominating boss? In documentary filmmaker Atanu Mukherjee’s short film titled Stray Dogs, the protagonist Tony struggles to cope with the demands of his employer. But after a while, his patience runs out and he becomes a vindictive and manipulative person.
The 15-minute-film was awarded Best Film at the Cinema City International Film Festival in Serbia in the “Up to 10,000 Bucks” category, last month. The jury described the film as a story on the “system-imposed relationship between the privileged and the oppressed.” Now, it will be competing in the Short Fiction category at the Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (July 18-July 22). “I am curious to explore the structure of hierarchy in our country where people who are in higher positions tend to dominate over their subordinates,” says Mumbai-based Mukherjee, about his debut short-feature film.
A 2008 graduate in film editing from the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, 33-year-old Mukherjee dabbled in making corporate films and documentaries, before he made and edited his first feature film in Marathi, with English subtitles, titled My House Is Not So Far, for Doordarshan, in 2009.
Stray Dogs is an adaptation of a Bengali short story Calling Bell, written by Manab Chakraborty from Chittranjan, West Bengal. Starring actors from the National School of Drama, like Bhushan Borgaonkar (Tony), Stray Dogs was possible through funding by Humara Movie, an online movie platform supporting independent content and some contribution by Mukherjee.
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The story follows the journey of Tony, an employee, who is subjected to work pressure by his employer. As he is unable to keep up with work and personal commitments, he gradually becomes a manipulator. In the end he realises things come full circle and he finds himself trapped in his own game, just like a stray dog. The film looks at Tony’s nature as he travels for his work, and starts becoming authoritative on unsuspecting strangers such as the waiter of a hotel he stays at.
The filmmaker is currently awaiting the release of his next short film, Gatekeeper, about a lone security guard manning a railway crossing at an isolated location.