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Films and Artists to look out for at BISFF 2020 ( Indian Competition).

Sagnik Kumar Gupta, Debanjan Dhar, Rachit Raj

All lists are deeply subjective and immensely personal and with this disclaimer , here’s our list of films we think you should watch out for , from the Indian competition segment at the Bengaluru international short film festival and our decisions to give away those category wins is also purely individual, on basis of extensive discussions , and not-so-bitter arguments, because all three of us managed to include our favorites somewhere or the other .

These films spoke to us the most, and we found these most distinctive in terms of the aforementioned departments but do check out all the films.

Top 5 Films (in order ) are :

1. Sunday

Director : Arun Fulara

Arun Fulara’s Sunday has the simplest of setup, but the mastery of it lies in the way Fulara exposes the underside of middle aged married life, and inserts the probabilities of one’s suppressed sexual orientation. Unfolding over the span of few hours, wherein the middle aged male protagonist , Kamble, goes on his Sunday visit to the barber’s and returns home , the film , with its unobtrusive and unshowy brilliance, works because it’s astonishing conceptualisation is held up ably by the sharpest, crisp execution. It’s hard to locate a single wasted or indulged moment , thanks to Kaivalya Swati’s razor like, precise edit, and Fulara refreshingly steers clear of pathos-wheedling or hints of domestic strife. Fulara astutely understands the artfully concerted facade of normalcy we put on , to avert uncomfortable, vital suggestions or possibilities , and his film treads the latent fault lines across and undercurrents of this manufactured heteronormativity.

Shrikant Yadav renders with economic elegance and ache the quietly stewing feelings that register in those subtlest of expressions that flit across his visage. Watch how his face lights up with a shy smile when Jaan, the worker at the saloon, talks to him. All the surrounding cacophony of chatter and video game noise get muted for him whenever Jaan smiles at him. The massage-and-shave sequence, done in exquisite slow motion , casts a hypnotic spell.

Sunday is a minimalistic miracle of a film, a sheer triumph for Fulara and his team. Sunday possesses an understated and wistful eloquence , conveyed through quickly stolen looks , silences and the smallest of gestures.


Director :Katyanan Shivpuri

Katyayan Shivpuri’s Hunger is a fascinating tale about a homeless man’s tryst with his love for Chicken. Katyan tries to document the unnamed and unnoticed people in the busy streets who like everyone else have some aspirations and dreams but don’t have the means to fulfill them. The old man lives to eat and tries his hand at making gourmet dishes with whatever little he has by selling novelty items at signals in Mumbai. He everyday notices the advertisement of a high end restaurant and dreams to eat there one day. He builds a friendship with a young boy as they bond over their mutual love for food and aspiration to eat in the high end restaurant. As luck might have it, both of them get a chance to eat at the restaurant but what follows is a quirky, whimsical tale of an old man’s greed and where it leads them.

The film is more than a simple comedy, it deals with important issues such as wealth disparity, class divide, greed and bureaucratic inefficiency. The screenplay written by the director is very intelligent and innovative in its treatment. The cinematographers Vandita Jain,Nitin Pareek have done an excellent job by wonderfully capturing the theme with very elegant shots of the old man expedition. The performances by the Uday Chandra and Prince Adhikary are restrained, minimalistic which shows their great control over the craft. Also kudos to Prashant Srinivas for the wonder background score and end credits.

3. Dhummas

Director: Nainisha Dedhia

Memory and identity are blurred into a mystical myth of misogyny and make-believe in the wonderfully written short-film Dhummas, that is being screened as a part of the Bangalore International Short Film Festival this year. Written and directed by Nainisha Dedhia, Dhummas is a film about women and their lost voice that uses memory as a narrative and political tool.

At its core, the film is about two women having a conversation against the backdrop of a lush, roaring rainfall that turns the most immediate sight into a fog. Mrinalini (Sonali Bharadwaj) has a conversation with her ailing grandmother (Pramodini Nanavati), which sees them jogging through an unsettled memory lane of the grandmother.

She tells Mrinalini about the stories that she wrote in her younger days. Stories that needed a male name to be published. A name that her husband borrowed when the time came. In her, the film gives us a narrator with obvious memory lapses, as we realize her breathing plight of being forced to find her legacy in giving her granddaughter the name she chose.

The film marks a moment of congruence between two generations. It maps a connection between two women, divorced by age, brought together by an eroding identity against the lashing rain, that turns their conversation into a silent murmur. Dhummas is about stories, incidents and lives that are lost in the fog of a male-driven documentation of life. It is a celebration of womenhood, their stories and identity.

4. Snakes and Ladder

Director : Mayura Dolas

Mayura Dolas’ Snake and Ladders is a fascinating and horrifying take on domestic violence and torture. The story follows the family of Amruta, a young girl who lives with her younger brother and parents. Her father is drunkard who tortures his family and has extramarital affairs. He doesn’t allow his children to play outside their house and also doesn’t let them talk to any person as such. He subjects his wife to regular domestic abuse. The fathers insists on playing snakes and ladder with Amruta and she has also become accustomed to this lifestyle and thinks that there is always a snake waiting to drag her down whenever she moves ahead in life.

The story and screenplay by Mandar Kulkarni and Mayura Dolas is absolutely horrifying and true to its subject. It quite skillfully shows the horrors of domestic violence and torture without being too sentimental or going overboard with violence. They have successfully created a sense of fear among the viewers. The performances by the ensemble cast is absolutely great but Prathamesh Joshi as the father and Pranjali Shrikant as the daughter absolutely stand out with stellar performances. The editing and the cinematography of the film is crisp and well suited to build the suspenseful atmosphere of the film.

5. Kaala

Director : Tarun Jain

Tarun Jain’s Kaala bravely turns the lens on the rampant, abject racial discrimination prevalent in India , and castigates the social structures that dictate our dehumanising treatment of foreigners, particularly Africans and non Americans . The way we look at them, respond to and act around them come from ages of skewed conditioning and ingrained , negatively nurtured prejudices that haven’t been subject to ample, necessary correctives or received any kind of unlearning.

Kaala unfolds over the course of one night and encompasses the travails an African student faces in everyday India, through one incident by which Jain establishes how customarily and freely Indians demonstate ownership and legitimise manhandling of Africans , and the snide , derogatory comments hurled at them by any passer by on the streets (a mother scares her kid with talk of a monster referring to the African protagonist who passes them by ) . Jain doesn’t repeat or rehash his statements ; there’s a wonderful neatness and competent control of filmmaking Kaala evidences. It is strictly no nonsense and very aware of what it intends to do.

Led by an empathetic, confident turn from Jude Boman Tony, Jain also never resorts to preachiness or gets too impassioned in his plea, there’s a degree of detached introspectiveness to Kaala instead of clearly telling it’s viewers what they should behave like that I really liked . Jain also doesn’t succumb to possible traps of indicting the hypocrisy that afflicts the usual high handed morality of Indians , Kaala achieves and succeeds handsomely within its set parameters.

Special Mention : Oru Single Room, Poet in two worlds, Miss Man.

Here are the Artists who stood out in their respective departments:

Direction- Arun Fulara (Sunday)

Editing- Md. Amir ( Miss Man)

Cinematography -Tuhin (Miss Man), Subhajit Paul Chowdhury ( Bhashan)

Screenplay- Nainisha Dedhia ( Dhummas)

Actor- Arghya Adhikary ( Miss Man), Prathamesh Joshi ( Snakes and Ladders)

Sound Design- Anindit Roy and Adeep Singh Manki ( Miss Man), Prashant Srinivas ( Hungry)

Costume design- Avishikta Chatterjee ( Miss Man),

Child actor- Pranjali Shrikant ( Snakes and Ladders )

Bengaluru Internation Film Festival will be held from 13th to 16 th August-

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