The second day of the Diorama International Film Festival & Market (DIFF) concluded with the first installment of festival’s short film selection. The three films screened on 15 January at DIFF were Tariq Naved Siddiqui’s The Playboy Mr Sawhney (2018), Nitin Chandra’s The Suspect (2018), and Amarpreet Chhabra’s The War Within: Of Duty And Humanity (2018).
While Siddiqui’s star-studded The Playboy Mr Sawhney presents a poetic rumination on storytelling, perception, and love, Chandra’s The Suspect is a neo-noir exploration of the marginalized and criminalized Muslim identity in India.
Chhabra’s The War Within breaks from the rhetoric of hypernationalism and glorification of war and the defence services, widely circulated in mainstream politics and media, and instead focusses on the personal and familial crisis of war. Chhabra, like Chandra, plays on the precariousness of India’s ever-volatile socio-political climate through intimate portrayals of crisis.
Director Siddiqui and the cast of The Playboy Mr Sawhney — Arjan Bajwa, Divya Dutta, Neetu Chandra, Manjari Fadnis, (and in a special appearance) Sudhir Mishra, along with The Suspect’s Nitin were present at the screening. In the post-screening discussion, the directors spoke about the growing space for short films on new platforms.
Speaking with Cinestaan.com, Nitin called the digital space “an alternative theatre”. Siddiqui reiterated the role of online visibility that has lent his Jackie Shroff-starrer The Playboy Mr. Sawhney over 200 million views.
In the last five years or so, popular filmmakers have returned to the short film format. Sudhir Mishra’s Kirchiyaan (2013), Anurag Kashyap’s The Day After Everyday (2013), Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya (2015), and Neeraj Pandey’s Ouch (2016) have given momentum to all classes of filmmakers to engage with the format.
The sharability of short films have lent the form greater visibility and the expansion in the short film selections across film festivals in recent times speaks of its popularity among all kinds of filmmakers.