By Yash Thakur. Posted on December 16, 2015
Short films finally came of age in 2015. Fueled by a growing pool of young filmmakers willing to experiment, low-cost cameras, editing softwares and platforms like Pocket Films, Humara Movies, Terribly Tiny Talkies, Short Film Window & Jamuura to promote these films, the space saw significant activity this year.
This year Indian short films released trailers, went viral, got reviewed in mainstream newspapers, won awards at international film festivals & had A-list actors & actresses star in them.
While monetization is still an issue, the internet has become an important way for young filmmakers to get their work out there & noticed. Sujoy Ghosh, who made probably the biggest short film this year, feels that "Internet will be THE distribution model. 5-6 years down the road, a lot of films will have an internet release."
We love the format & the freedom that comes with it. This year, we released Chaar Cutting, an anthology of short films that consisted of four award-winning short films, hand-picked from across a wide range of shorts. Jamuura TV is another effort to create a curated platform of high-quality short films, across languages & genres.
While we watch a lot of short films, we can't claim to have seen everything. This list is the best from whatever we've seen this year. While the list has one Bengali & one Marathi film, all the other films are in Hindi. The list doesn't include any film from any of the South Indian languages & that's because most of them lack subtitles, something we hope changes soon.
Click on the titles to watch the film and let us know if you agree with this list. If you don't then do let us know which other films you would've liked to see in this list.
'A trippy film about the dark side of love', Aadish Keluskar's stream of consciousness short is about a young man contemplating the murder of his lover. Though this summary is not enough to compliment the visually enthralling film, Keluskar's short plays with the concept of time, something he achieves admirably due to brilliant editing.
I Love You Too... explores, in the words of the filmmaker, the 'psyche of the abnormal in the normal' with its roller-coaster jump cuts, while keeping the narrative clear and simple. In 15 short minutes, the film takes you into the mind of the protagonist & makes you empathize with a killer. Barrack Obama & Shah Rukh Khan make a small appearance as the character swings between serious philosophical musings & banal thoughts.
In this lovely interview on ShortFilmWindow, Keluskar lays bare his take on filmmaking, "In this film, I tried to lessen the degree of concretization, so that the viewer can have more freedom to form her/his own narrative and sequencing, which in turn would evoke different kind of interpretations of Rahul’s psyche vis-a-vis the film. Thus, this perception process I found was analogous to Rahul’s character who starts with an abstract rage, then a concrete resolution, and then feeling indifference towards both the rage and action at the end of the film....Rahul takes us into an indifferent harmonic zone of a very clichéd, sensationalist and immoral idea without making much fuss about it. Thus, the effect is disturbing. And that can also generate many response ranging from fascination or repulsion or an unending monotonous comedy."
Keluskar, who dropped out of FTII, had his debut feature, Kaul (A Calling), premiere at Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival this year where it picked up the Young Critics jury award.
Watch the film here.
A heartwarming short directed by Surya Balakrishnan starring Marathi actors Girish Kulkarni and Gauri Deshpande, Arre Baba was a part of the Mother’s Day celebration of Terribly Tiny Talkies (a part of the popular Terribly Tiny Tales). An unconventional take on a mother’s existence, the film explores whether a father can also be a mother. The film is about how a father and daughter cope with life in the absence of a mother.
There are some responsibilities that are naturally assigned to a mother, where for reasons of social conditioning, fathers aren't too comfortable talking about with their daughters. The film, shot in one continuous single take, takes us through one such awkward conversation. Kulkarni is a remarkable actor & the chemistry between him & the young girl makes the film come alive.
Balakrishnan is a graduate of the New York Film Academy, where she made Felicia. Her documentary on a group of girls from the slums of Mumbai going to the US for a football tournament was at the NFDC Film Bazaar this year.
Watch the film here.
LargeShortFilms have been doing an amazing job of sponsoring and promoting high-quality short films. Nayantara's Necklace, starring Konkona Sen Sharma, Tillotama Shome & Gulshan Devaiah, is the story of "an accidental friendship between two of the unlikeliest characters and the twist and turns it takes as their relationship develops. It would shake you, jolt you and leave you wondering about life."
Directed by Jaydeep Sarkar, (the writer behind films like Khoya Khoya Chand, Shaurya & Tera Kya Hoga Johhny) and with a duration of just 20 mins, Nayantara's Necklace captures the beauty of everyday life, the dynamics of female friendship and the hypocrisy of image-making.
Talking about the genesis of the film, the director says that, "I wanted to tell a story of a certain kind of middle class which lived in different metropolises. Middle-class women, who give up their careers for the family and when the kids grow up and the husbands are busy with work, what do they do with their spare time at home? That was something that I really wanted to explore so what happened to the story was basically all these thoughts came together and sort of became one story."
With well-known faces in the film, it also continues the trend of mainstream actors working in shorts. This is a welcome trend, one that enhances the reach & appeal of the format. Of course, the film has to stand on its own legs, stars or not. Nayantara's Necklace does it pretty well & that's why it figures in this list.
Watch the film here.
This year Terribly Tiny Talkies emerged as a hub for some really interesting short films. They released a package of short films on three separate occasions this year, Valentine's day, Mother's day & Independence day. While we loved many of them, one of our favorites to come out of this series was Srinivas Sunderrajan's Mamta Tonic. Made for Mother's day, the film revolves around a traveling saleswoman, who sells her powerful homemade tonic.
Suhita Thatte takes the center stage in this deceptively funny thriller as the mom-turned-saleswoman who seems to posses some sinister intentions beneath her smiling face. The way in which the mood of the film changes as the it goes from being a simple, funny story to kicking you in the guts at the end, is quite remarkable. Very few feature films can achieve that and that makes the film really special.
Sunderrajan is one of the few true-blue indie filmmakers in Mumbai, who's made The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project & The Greater Elephant, both of which had a limited theatrical release through PVR Rare. He's also a prolific short filmmaker, having made films like Tea Break, Vaapsi, Dvait & The Seed. A multi-faceted talent, he is also the bass player for the hardcore band, Scribe & directed the 3rd season of the popular MTV show The Dewarists.
Watch the film here.
Faraz Ali's debut short film Mehrooni was an official selection for the 13th Mumbai Film Festival 2011. More recently, the young director's last short, Makhmal, (starring Jackie Shroff) won the Best Short Film South Asian Panorama at Festival of Globe that was held in California, USA. Disguised as a thriller and high on suspense, Ludo revolves around a taxi driver who unfolds the happenings of a thrilling night drive with a lady passenger, while his fellow taxi driver and ludo partner is on tenterhooks. The film gently maneuvers through a sensitive subject bringing to focus two different perspectives.
Faraz has worked with brands like Viacom 18(MTV & Colors), Draft FCB Group, Big 92.7 FM (Adlabs Films) and Bhansali Productions on films like Shirin Farhad and Ram Leela. His films have a warmth to them and are beautifully backed by music. While Mehrooni had a lovely track by Rekha Bhardwaj, Makhmal had Shafqat Amanat Ali lending his voice.
Watch the film here.
Devashish Makhija’s El’ayichi was part of the first series of shorts that Terribly Tiny Talkies started with. Makhija is another multi-talented filmmaker based out of Mumbai, whose Wikipedia page describes him as "filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic artist, fiction writer and poet". His debut feature film, Oonga, premiered at the New York Indian Film Festival in 2013. He's released two popular children's books, When Ali became Bajrangbali and Why Paploo was Perplexed and an anthology of some of his short stories was published as Forgetting.
Makhija has also assisted in films like Bunty aur Babli & Black Friday and is supposedly writing Anurag Kashyap's long-rumoured superhero project Doga. Devashish is a prolific short filmmaker having earlier made shorts like Rahim Murge Pe Mat Ro, Agli Baar & more, all of which you can see on his Youtube channel.
In this refreshing short film, Nimrat Kaur plays a wife whose husband (played by Divyendu Sharma) and dwells on their unique relationship.
Watch the film here.
One of the most widely seen Indian short films of recent times, Sujoy Ghosh's Ahalya is the Bajrangi Bhaijaan of short films this year.
The film is a twisted take on the myth of Gautama Rishi & Ahalya and has all the elements that make a short film worth watching. The short film continues the trend of known faces acting in short films, with Radhika Apte and veteran Bengali actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Toto Roy Chowdhury in the film. An interesting premise, intrigue and a last minute twist in the tale, Ahalya has it all.
With Ahalya, Sujoy Ghosh joined the growing tribe of feature film directors, who have come to love the shorter format, however challenging it may be.
There is a difference between the two formats, something Ghosh captures in this short comment in his interview with us, "In a short film, you really have to think about the audience carefully, really carefully, because your audience is so broad compared to a feature film. It’s a huge audience poll, so you have to be very careful about what you put out there. Because your short film will live only on word of mouth. I know it’s easier said than done, but the content is the key."
You can watch the film here.