Cinema is a medium of expression. Even if a movie is not in the 100-crore club, it touches your heart. On the other hand, some high-budget and high-earning films are just for commercial gains. Apart from seeking profits, films should express issues at grassroots, just like in the film Mulk. This is just one example. There are several short films that, I think, have a deep understanding of real issues and are appealing to the audience.
Recently, certain films in the industry were made to generate a political opinion in favour or opposition of a political party or leader. Despite this, there are some short films that pose a question before us and make us ponder. I am sharing my thoughts on three such short films and documentaries.
This documentary is directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and has won an Oscar for the ‘Best Documentary Short Film’. The documentary was fully shot in Hapur district, on the outskirts of Delhi. Period or menstruation is still considered a topic not to be discussed. For some, it’s limited to women. It is a dark area for many men; even if they know about it, they choose not to talk about it. In rural areas, women cannot go to temples during their menstrual cycle and are forced to sit in a corner of the house as if they are impure.
Why do people differentiate blood coming our of the same body, but through different body parts? It is still red. This discrimination relates to untouchability because it is based on the notion of pure and impure. Zehtabchi has rightly captured all these factors in this documentary. She interviewed several women and men of different ages and asked them about periods and sanitary pads. Some girls said, “It’s bad blood,” while some boys said, “It’s a disease.”
It was awkward for many to speak or share their views on this issue. The documentary also covers the silent Pad-Revolution,which was started in Hapur by a local self-help group. Many women in this group are manufacturing pads with the help of machines inspired by Pad Man Arunachalam Muruganantham. They think most women find it hard to purchase pads from shops, especially when men are around them. To eliminate this awkwardness, the SHG is selling door-to-door pads. The dialogue, “Not elephant, not tiger. A girl is a girl,“ really touched my heart. This is a documentary everyone must watch.
This is a short film directed by Nagraj Popatrao Manjule. The film has won the National Award in the non-feature film category. The film was shot in Karmala Taluka of Solapur district in Maharashtra. Manjule, who gave Saira to the world, made this film to depict the struggle of a poor rural boy to educate himself. In rural areas, there are many who cannot afford to go to school even after the Right to Education came into action. Many children have to work on someone else’s farm to sustain their family.
The character in the film is one such boy, Pistulya, who belongs to a lower caste and desperately wants to go to school to study. His late father always wanted him to get educated, but due to the sudden demise of her husband, Pistulya’s mother is unable to afford uniform and books. She thus takes him with her for begging. His mother asks people of their community to teach him thievery. Manjule has amazingly captured subtle emotions of the child when he resists stealing, and the scene in which Pistulya runs off by stealing a school uniform.
Rural India’s issues are not expressed deliberately or shown to the audience, but Manjule has gracefully depicted the issue of poverty in India. In one such scene, Pistulya is shown standing behind a wired fence, watching school students praying in the ground. I believe this fencing has to break, and all children of India must learn and dream of achieving their goals. The film ends with a quote of Mahatma Jyotirao Phule that says:
“Lack of education leads to lack of wisdom, which leads to lack of morals, which leads to lack of progress, which leads to lack of money, which leads to oppression of the lower classes. See what state of the society one’s lack of education can cause.”
Based on a poem by Sabir Haka, this film is a visual poetry on the life of labourers. The film is directed by Tirtha Khakhlary and presented by Yogesh Patil. Khakhlary and Patil have been to National School of Drama in Tripura. Haka is an Iranian poet and a construction worker himself. He has depicted the whole life of a labourer in a few words. Patil thought that this (the pandemic) is the perfect time to create something on them.
The film correlates with the current situation of migrant labourers all over the world, and not just in India. Patil himself has worked as a labourer in his school days to earn for his family. Haka says, “He was a worker, since my mother carried me in her womb while working, and I felt her exhaustion. Her tiredness is still in my body. This touched me so much to make a craft on it.”
Note: The article was originally published here.