Cast: Huma Qureshi,Satya Anand,Aditya Kumar,Richa Chadha,Arjun Srivastava,Murari Kumar,Preeti Singh,Shankar Debnath,Nawazuddin Siddiqui,Aditi Khanna, Vineet Singh,Ratnabali Bhattacharjee
Directors: Shlok Sharma,Siddharth Gupt,Anirban Roy,Rohit Pandey,Neeraj Ghaywan
The Indian Express rating: *** 1/2
Shorts is exactly that. Five short films,wildly different in choice of story,technique,and tone. But these films,produced by Anurag Kashyap and Guneet Monga,have one thing in common: they are helmed and performed by fresh new voices and faces. If these filmmakers go on to make features (and I know at least one of them has completed his first),then we are in for some good times.
Sujata has Huma Qureshi play a victim of long abuse at the hands of a cousin. The abuse began when she and he (Kumar) were much younger,and Sharma shows with economy that she has never really been able to get away from him. It starts slow and then builds up,the older version of the cousin played by Anand,into a crescendo. The end is satisfying and disturbing,and the performances are good.
Epilogue has three characters one woman,two men — occupying different planes. If that sounds a little abstruse,it is meant to. It reminded me a little of the kind of psychedelic European films that used to be made: here are the visuals,and theres your interpretation. This one is a bit of a stretch though Richa Chadha stands out,inviting your gaze.
Audacity takes you into a home which has a rebellious young daughter and a father who sits and reads a newspaper,and a mother who is resentful,and cooks. It is a dysfunctional family,and it ends on a note you can see ahead. But the actors are all such a fit,especially the young Preeti Singh.
Nawazuddin lights up the dystopian universe of Mehfuz,a place where people are dying continuously of mysterious causes,and ending up in pyres,and graves. Nawazs face,smeared with dust and dirt and pain,is,as ever,a stayer.
And Shor is about a man uprooted from his native UP trying to find his feet in Mumbai,and struggling for a rhythm with his wife,who has to leave the home in order to work and feed her family an ever grumbling mother-in-law,jobless husband,and little boy. Both Vineet Singh and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee are excellent,and the direction is assured.
They are all interesting in their ways,but for me the ones that worked the most were Sujata and Shor: using the same old human conditions and feelings and re-casting them anew makes for the best stories.