With the recent release of Bombay Talkies — an admirable compilation of 4 short films by prominent directors, which received accolades from audiences as well as critics — the genre of short films seems to have caught up in India.
Short films have been active internationally since 1894, when the films use to be short or just one-shot films. Short films have come a long way since the days of the Lumières’ Train, one of the first short films made in 1895, which was about 50 seconds. They have been leaving a mark across the world at various International film festivals and award functions which includes the Academy awards (if screened in Los Angeles), Cannes Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, among the prominent ones along with more than twenty international short film festivals which includes London Short Film Festival, Hamburg International Short Film Festival among the others.
Filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan, whose 16 minutes short film, Shor, one of the films in the compilation of five short films called Shorts, co-produced by film-maker Anurag Kashyap won the grand jury award at the South Asian International Film Festival recently and was released in selected cities in July this year. Says Ghaywan, “I made Shor when I was involved in the post-production of Gangs of Wasseypur. It received great response at various film festivals across the world. After Bombay Talkies and Shorts having a theatrical release, I think we could see short films as commerce also. It’s a far rewarding process. We’re witnessing a great change.”
Another film by Ghaywan, Ephiphany, is a part of the ‘India Is a Visual Journey’ series which was produced by Anurag Kashyap production AKFPL and Viacom18 Motion Pictures, released in June this year. It’s a series of five short films by upcoming filmmakers for a new project launched on YouTube. The other four films are Geek Out by Vasan Bala, Moi Marjaani by Kashyap’s sister Anubhuti, Shlok Sharma’s Hidden Cricket and Geetanjali Rao’s Chai. Good scripts and compact story line is making these quick minuscule packages work beautifully. Another 25-minute-short Tamil film Aghavizhi, gained appreciation which was made by Sripriya Krishnaswamy, of Lensmangops Pictures. The film recently got the ‘U’ certificate from the Censor Board to go ahead with its further rounds.
Actress Richa Chaddha, who acted in one of the films in Shorts along with other prominent actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi, Satya Anand, among others found it a great experience. She says, “It’s a great way for people to reach out to the audiences.” Chaddha has also finished a short film God Room, by Mira Nair.
Until now, Internet was the primary support which led to the spread and promotion of short films. Through mediums like You Tube, and other video uploading sites, the filmmakers use to share their work and get reviews. But now the mediums are expanding. Entry at the International Film Festivals, short film competitions, public screenings, social media platforms are getting the genre in the mainstream. The Guardian film website is conducting a short one minute film competition where anyone can upload their film and get reviews from across the world.
On the other front, Short film clubs are supporting the trend whole heartedly. Shamiana, The Short Film Club, the first short film club in the country, founded by theatre personality Cyrus Dastur five years ago, is getting bigger everyday, active in Delhi, Kolkata, Bombay, Pune, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Guwahati, Nagaland and also in Melbourne. The club’s screenings reach out to 4 million people across the country, with about 7-8 screenings every month in the cities which gets a huge turn-out according to Dastur.
As the genre is all prepared to come into the commercial zone, their existing popularity wont be short-lived.