Mumbai, 26 Sep 2020 9:30 IST
Directed by Pratik Rajen Kothari, the short Hindi film features a terrific performance by Rupesh Tillu.
Few people can wrap their head around the fact that India's sizeable homeless population, oftentimes mistaken for beggars or the unemployed, have no choice but to live on the streets or footpaths.
Director Pratik Rajen Kothari’s short film Grill deftly attempts to disabuse the public of its misconceptions regarding the homeless by putting us in the shoes of an unnamed footpath dweller (Rupesh Tillu) whose mundane life undergoes an unexpected change.
Our protagonist, who ekes out a living manning a food stall and selling tea, one day notices that a woman who resides in the building opposite his sleeping area goes out to work at night and returns in the next morning.
He then sneaks into her ground-floor flat through a broken grill. No, his intention is not to steal. He only wants to use the woman's home as sleeping quarters while she is away. However, a habit sets in, leaving the audience wondering how much longer our hero can sustain his clandestine activity.
Though almost a silent film, Grill relies heavily on sounds and its adroit sound design contributes greatly to the overall gripping narrative. Along with the screenplay and direction, Tillu's thoroughly convincing performance steals your heart and has you rooting for him every in every scene, especially during the thrilling moments when he is on the verge of getting caught.
Without being preachy, Grill, apart from telling an interesting story, makes a hard-hitting yet subtle statement on the working class in India. One scene, where the protagonist, sitting on the footpath, smiles wryly at a real-estate hoarding urging people to book new flats, speaks volumes.
The film, which reminds us that just because a person looks healthy and wears decent clothes doesn’t necessarily mean he has a roof over his head, elicits a sense of gratitude among those who have been left relatively unscathed by the financial crisis wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grill will stream on Disney+ Hotstar from today.
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