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From Imtiaz Ali to Nandita Das: A new India through six short films 


Imtiaz Ali, Pradeep Sarkar, Sudhir Mishra, Hansal Mehta, Nandita Das and Rohan Sippy came together for a summit to create six individual short films depicting their perspective of a new, diverse India. 

Shriram Iyengar

Rohan Sippy, Imtiaz Ali, Pradeep Sarkar, Sudhir Mishra and Nandita Das were among the filmmakers who chose to depict a new perspective of India through their films for the India Today Conclave. The films, ranging from sweet to bitterly satirical depict the changing face of a modern nation, and its people, coming to terms with their roles and powers. While Mishra deals with the usual gift of his political eye, Sippy catches fans off guard with his delightfully humorous take on Twitter trolling. Das and Ali dig deeper to offer a surprisingly sharp insight into India's cultural and intellectual diversity. 

1. Others by Pradeep Sarkar

The director of Mardaani (2014) has been anonymous for a while, but his creative energy is not. Depicting the changing position of transgenders in an expanding Indian society, Sarkar has got his casting spot on. The film is devoid of any superficial emoting but lacks the sharp punch that might have elevated it. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful little film that gives a glimpse of an India that does not appear on the big screen too often. 

2. My Dream by Imtiaz Ali

Few filmmakers possess the ability to perceive stories through characters like Imtiaz Ali. In this wonderful short film, a prostitute delivers an impeccable lesson in finance management to a harried stockbroker in five minutes. Packed with an AR Rahman soundtrack, the short film certainly has the potential to expand into something bigger, maybe a web series. Nevertheless, the sight of the filmmaker laughing and hanging out with several sex workers from the red light area reminds you of the scenes from Rockstar. Now, this is a filmmaker who looks into the nooks and crannies that most people ignore.

3. Primetime by Rohan Sippy

This brilliant masterpiece from Rohan Sippy makes us wonder why he does not make more short films. The director transports Twitter to a media office and delivers a masterpiece satire on the practice of online trolling. Starring comedy regulars Gopal Dutt, Anuvab Pal, Aradhana Dhawan and Kunaal Roy Kapoor, the short film is a hilarious take on the growing 'intolerance' prevalent in Indian society. Maybe it is time for Sippy to do more short films or a comedy series.

4. Life Support by Sudhir Mishra 

Obviously, Sudhir Mishra's film had to depict a biting take on politics in India. Starring Vipin Sharma, Rasika Dugal and Rahul Bhat, the film depicts the different equations between family members of a political party who treat each other as pawns for their success. The shock ending is true to Mishra's cinematic style, as is the sharp and memorable dialogue. As Vipin Sharma's character remarks in the end, "It is a good story, but it is a very sad story." 

5. Reach For The Stars by Hansal Mehta 

Another politically conscious filmmaker, Hansal Mehta delivers a different take on the country's scenario through his film Reach For The Stars. A stark film, it has Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub narrating the last suicide letter of PhD student, Rohith Vemula who is credited as writer for the film as well. Shot in black and white, and narrated exceptionally by Ayyub, the film hits the mark with its sharp words. The emotion in the voice of Ayyub is hard to miss, as is the impactful translation by Swanand Kirkire. While many might focus on the progress of the nation, it is left to filmmakers like Mehta to remind us what we have lost in the process. 

6. In Defence of Freedom by Nandita Das 

Nandita Das is already filming a biopic on the enigmatic and controversial life of Saadat Hassan Manto. In this short film, she introduces the audience to her Manto, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, defending his right to write 'obscene' stories. As the country falls deeper and deeper into the clutches of sensitive people who are offended at everything, Manto's words question their right to ignore the truth in society. Siddiqui delivers a performance filled with the right balance of humour and conviction to convince that his Manto might be one to watch out for.