9 Contemporary Indian Short Films You Should Watch Right Now

9 Contemporary Indian Short Films You Should Watch Right Now

A lot of times we feel that that only movies that are being made in India are those that star big celebrities and run for 3 hours. Fortunately, that is not the case. There are numerous talented filmmakers in the country and many of them are venturing into uncharted territory and making films that use innovative techniques in telling stories. Amidst the hullabaloo of the 100 crore club, big banners and the glamour of Bollywood, many such films often run the risk of not getting their due appreciation amongst audiences. But thanks to numerous online spaces and platforms, we now have access to different kinds of cinema – both long and short, traditional as well as experimental. Here are Homegrown’s picks of some of the best short films made in India in recent times.

I. Seththumaan

Based on renowned writer, Perumal Murugan’s short story, Varugari (Fried Meat), the film, Sethhumaan explores the realities of caste and the normalisation of caste-based violence in rural Tamil Nadu. The film is set in the year, 2017, when the Dalit lawyer, Ramnath Kovind became the President of India. It explores ways in which caste divisions operate in every aspect of life in the village. A Dalit basket seller, Poochiyappa does odd jobs for the local landlord, Vellappayan and is constantly reminded of his caste in both overt and covert ways. Nevertheless, he dreams of a better life for his orphaned grandson, Kumaresan (Ashwin). The film centers around the formation of a beautiful relationship between the grandfather and grandson, where the duo goes through many ordeals together.

Know more about the film here.

II. Wheeled Wings

‘Wheeled Wings’ is a documentary about Janwaar, a village in the heart of India witnessing and experiencing cultural change. Directed by filmmakers Divy Bhagya and Aayush Dudhiya, the film explores the problems that rural India continues to face today, and also features Ulrike Reinhard, a lady from Germany who changes the entire scape of the village by simply introducing the youth to skateboarding. Since the time of its formation, this skate park has proved to be a space where caste-based stigmas are overcome on a daily basis through sports and a thriving youth culture scene. It has played an instrumental role in putting up a brave front in fighting social issues and putting up a brave front against equality.

Check out the film here.

III. The Disguise

A short film set in London, The Disguise talks about the growing cultural intolerance and rampant racism around the world, through an intimate portrayal of the lives of two women in London. One is conservative, holding on to her native symbols and customs, while the other is liberal and more in tune with modern values and ethos. One day, an incident on the road, a hate crime, pushes matters to a head, and forces them to rethink their concepts of identity. This film makes no attempt to arrive at any answers, and instead just leaves some questions hanging. It asks, ‘what is culture?’, ‘What is integration?’, ‘What is acceptance?’ and ‘who decides how we choose to live?’.

Check out the film here.

IV. The Salt in Our Waters

Debut director Rezwan Sumit collected numerous awards, including a Spike Lee Fellowship, to produce this exquisite Bangladeshi drama, set on a remote coast afflicted by climate change. Soon after the death of his coastguard father, young Rudro travels to a far-flung fishing village to find some closure. He rents a hut and starts to work on his figurative art. A young local woman inspires his work and secretly falls in love with him, but the rigid traditions of the village forbids any possible relationship. When the fish shoals the fishermen rely on suddenly disappear, Rudro and his blasphemous sculptures are blamed. And with a cyclone approaching, social and physical storms threaten the artist’s way of life. Essentially, the film has tried to capture a vulnerable fishing community at the centre of a tussle between climate-change impact and religious conservatism.

Check out the trailer here.

V. Bittu

Karishma Dev Dube’s Bittu is a film that seeks to give voice to an overlooked community, and follows a fierce little girl who refuses to be forgotten. It has been shortlisted for the 2021 Academy Awards for Live Action Short Film. Dube has already won a silver medal in the Student Academy Award 2020 for Bittu and this could be counted as an advantage in the 93rd Academy Award. The film is getting support from Bollywood celebrities and the cinema collective, Indian Women Rising.

Find out more about the movie here.

VI. Centrifugal

A one-minute short film by a film student from Irinjalakuda in Kerala, Adithya Patel is making waves with its stark portrayal of a woman’s journey of life. “He was searching for a theme for his college assignment and that is when I came up with the idea of how a woman’s life is circumscribed by the men in her life. Right from the time she is born, a baby girl is bound by norms of patriarchy. She is constantly told to watch her step and fall in line with convention,” said Hena Chandran, Adithya’s mother, Hena Chandran who wrote the script. Centrifugal in a matter of a single minute has managed to tell a very moving and real tale of the life of a woman from birth to death, with a few sequences in black and white and then one in colour, all showing only the lower legs of the actors.

Check out the film here.

VII. No English

Short film ‘No English’ directed by Japi is a beautiful representation of the city of Brampton in Canada, which is a home to a large South Asian community. The community is portrayed through the different facets of their lives and offer us a glimpse into how ‘multiculturalism’ has thrived and continue to thrive in Canada. Even though ‘No English’ is a movie devoid of dialogues, it perfectly captures what it means to be a South Asian living in Canada and the community spirit that is created in doing so.

Check out our article on the movie here.

VIII. Janam Aur Jeevan

The short film, Janam aur Jeevan, is about the hardships of pregnancy in rural India and women’s right to maternity entitlements. The film presents interesting insights from Jacha Bacha survey carried out by student volunteers in Odisha and Jharkhand. PMVVY scheme has helped around 23 per cent of women to receive maternity benefits. Indus Action is striving to ensure more women to receive maternity benefits with the help of the PoWER- Portfolio of Welfare Entitlements and Rights. The film is produced by Research for Action.

Watch the film here.

IX. Arranged

Centered around a middle-aged couple — Jhurima and Jayanta (Lima Das and Ranjeev Lal Barua in exceptional measured turns), the short showcases their everyday lives during the pandemic. Married just before the lockdown (during the CAA protests), they have been stuck at home. But this time together seems neither precious nor tiresome for they are at best, familiar strangers. Even though not spelt out, it is fairly evident that this is an arranged marriage. Conversations regarding household chores constitute their interaction, preceded and succeeded by awkward silences. Crippled by shyness, Jayanta is content looking longingly at his wife, hoping that would convey his fondness. She, on her part, tiptoes around to not make him uncomfortable. The 22-minute film is a disarming illustration of a 45-year-old introvert learning the ropes to be familiar with his partner in the absence of privacy, evoking the grammar of a high-school romance.

Watch the film here.

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