Mumbai Dimensions is a unique initiative to spot the young and the emerging talents in the city. And the rules are simple – 1. You have to be Under-25. 2. Duration can’t be more than 5mins. 3. The film should be about the city. The prizes include Silver Gateway trophies and cash prize of Rs. One Lakh and Rs. 50,000/- for the best two shorts. This year’s jury includes Kiran Rao, Vikramaditya Motwane, Nishikant Kamat, Onir and Renuka Shahane.
Shorts are always challenging. And when there is a restriction on duration and subject, it’s bound to get tougher. Surprisingly there was a long queue for the shorts too. But thanks to some last minute smartness, some of us managed to get in at the right time. This year there are 20 films in this section. I have a film theory called U-25 which i generally use to dismiss the views of kids ( read U-25) when we are discussing cinema. Well, it’s a joke, but after watching all the 20 films, i think there is some truth in my U-25 theory. The simple logic is if you haven’t seen/lived/experienced life enough, you can’t make a good film. And 25 is just too little to do that. Of course age is just a number, and a theory is a theory. But why are we making such terrible films and telling bad stories with such a cliche treatment? We all do shitty stuff but as long as you can separate the shit from the rest, I think you are in right direction.
For many young filmmakers this must have been a big news that their short is selected for MFF but if this is the best we got, we seriously are not telling them the difference between good and bad cinema. I may be completely wrong but here’s my
reactions to the shorts and the bets on the best.
1. Unearthed – Split screen is not experimental, it’s passe. Montage is NOT a film.
2. The Few Unfortunates – Parallel stories criss-crossing each other. Nice idea but better execution could have taken it to another level.
3. Aakra-man – A mockumentary on a superhero who speaks in Marathi, loves the Mumbai city but can’t do much. Smart and easily stands out from the rest.
4. Ek Titli Ka Aks – You hear a voice-over and can make out that it’s by an old person but you see a young man on screen. Credit roll tells us it’s Tom Alter’s voice. So Alter recites a poetry and a young man tries to experience Mumbai. There is no sync, no emotion.
5. Krishanna – A monologue shot as a dialogue where characters are narrating their experience about the city. Great idea, very badly made.
6. Bombay Snow – Pure cinema, pure joy! This one stands out and how! Miles ahead of the rest. Unlike others, it doesn’t even try to force the “Mumbai” factor in the narrative but touches upon so many subjects beautifully – displacement issue, rural versus urban, and a young kid trying to understand the equation between dad, mom and a prostitute. Director is Chinmay Nagesh Dalvi. Dear Festival Programmers, if you are looking for shorts, pick this one!
7. Vani – The city through its sounds and visuals. Another montage.
8. This Circle Is Mine – A documentary on the guy who stands at Mumbai’s Juhu Circle holding a placard to spread the message of love and peace. Many of us have often wondered about the old man. The film tells us bit more about him. A straight narrative that doesn’t do much justice to the man’s mission or life. Great idea to pick this interesting character but a great opportunity lost too as it keeps on repeating the same things.
9. Life Is A Beach – A love story between a geek and a ship (or aliens). Very interesting take, nicely executed but this one reminds me of Abhay’s previous short Just That Sort Of A Day – similar mood, same style of voice-over.
10. Face To Face – A funny little story in this big bad Mumbai city.
11 The Waiting City – Blasts happens. People wait. Badly done.
12. Facelift – A silent short which beautifully captures the issue of mills turning into malls. The film is DOP’s show-reel for sure.
13. ‘O’ Brother??? What Art Thou.. – Finally, a short with political context. Perhaps the only city in this country where “Bhaiyya” is an abuse. And those who have never visited Mumbai, will never understand this weird problem. Nice attempt.
14. Mehrooni – This could have been set in any other city and it wouldn’t have mattered. A saccharine love story of a couple that’s says everything it shows and shows everything it says. The voice-over is unnecessary, it’s too sweet, too fake and overtly sentimental. Even Rekha Bhardwaj’s vocals could not help. Only good point – it’s well shot.
15. Adrak – A nice little love story between a photographer and a tourist that happens at the Gateway of India.
16. Khawacha – Tries to capture the politics of the game that kids play. Good idea, bad treatment.
17. Duplicate – Captures the life of three duplicates – Anil Kapoor, Govinda and Devanand’s lookalikes. But doesn’t say/discover much beyond what we all know. Also, the subject has been covered million times. If only it could have tried to dig deeper.
18. 2733-see You On The Other Side – Works at the idea level but very tacky production.
19. Life Line – Story of Trains. It just doesn’t translate what the director is trying to say. Bad.
20. Rastaa – Story of two street urchins that doesn’t say anything new or in any new way.
And here’s my pick –
1. Bombay Snow – The best. Has no competition.
2. Aakra-Man and Life Is A Beach.
Let’s see what the jury decides to go with. And if the best one doesn’t win, always remember that any cinema award always says more about the jury and less about the films. Waiting and how!