In a culture of political correctness, virtue signalling and hyper vigilantism, all of our choices are brought to the foreground as we evaluate them both collectively and individually and go over the so-called 'rights and wrongs'. A myopic perspective like this is very likely to make us forget that morality is a privilege that dissipates when individuals are stripped of the means to survive. Through its humanistic narrative, the short film Giddh juxtaposes these values, forcing us to confront the complexities of the human experience and the sacrifices made in the pursuit of life.
Giddh portrays the story of an elderly man grappling with the loss of his son and the hardships of his impoverished existence. Repeatedly rejected for daily-wage labor due to his age, his resilience is tested as he seeks unconventional means to make ends meet. His livelihood, against his own conscience that is already fractured by grief, becomes the reselling of clothes of the deceased that hang from a Banyan tree in the cremating grounds as per the Hindu last rites.
Directed by the National award-winning filmmaker Manish Saini and produced by Ellanar Films and Amdavad Films, Giddh won the Asia International Competition at the renowned Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2023. Actor Sanjay Mishra, who plays the protagonist, was also honoured with the coveted Best Actor award for his performance in the film. Even with minimal dialogue, Sanjay speakes volumes on the plight of his character in this dark, yet painfully realistic tale of survival, shedding light on the overlooked struggles faced by millions of individuals when it comes to making ends meet.
The symbolism of the vulture, which is what 'Giddh' translates to, emerges as a powerful motif throughout the short film. Like the scavenging bird that feeds off the remains of the dead, the old man metaphorically becomes a vulture, relying on the remnants of others' lives to survive. This metaphor unveils the harsh realities faced by those trapped in the clutches of poverty, where moral boundaries blur in the desperate pursuit of existence.
Giddh is a rude awakening for the privileged and a solidary nod to the deprived about the hedonistic nature of morality itself and how irrelevant death and starvation render such a deeply human tendency that lies at the intersection of philosophy, religion, and civilization. The film serves as a poignant reminder of our shared vulnerability and the fragility of life. It compels the viewers to confront their own mortality and agency through a naked lens and contemplate the intricate tapestry of humanity.