Mumbai youth nominated with Yo-Yo Ma, McCartney at LA Shorts International Film Festival
And the nominees are… Yo-Yo Ma, Paul McCartney, and a Mumbai boy named Saahil Bhargava.
An animated music video by Bhargava, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter currently based in Los Angeles, for a song written and sung by him, has been selected at the LA Shorts International Film Festival, alongside projects by music greats Ma and McCartney. The video, for the song Kohima, will compete in the Best Animation and the Best Music Video categories at the festival.
He and his Mumbai-based co-director Harmeet Rahal, 25, also the film’s animator, are over the moon. Their passion project was inspired by the massive battle of Kohima in present-day Nagaland, which occurred in 1944, towards the end of World War 2. “It was a turning point in the war, but it’s a forgotten battle that rarely gets talked about,” Bhargava says. Rather than focus on the victory of the Allied forces (Indian soldiers were fighting Japan in this arena, on behalf of colonial Britain), the song is written from the perspective of the embattled soldier fighting physical and emotional trauma and trying to survive it all so he can return home to his family.
“When Saahil came to me, he had finished writing the song. It was such a great challenge to bring those emotions to the screen,” Rahal says. “It’s an honour to be nominated alongside such amazing work, and I hope this helps more people learn about this hidden piece of Indian history.”
Incidentally, the McCartney work nominated alongside in both categories is When Winter Comes. It is the final track on McCartney III, the former Beatle’s 18th solo album. The Ma work nominated for Best Music Video is See Me: A Global Concert, a 23-minute pandemic-era production that was filmed remotely and features collaborations between acclaimed musicians, orchestras and choirs playing from around the world.
The LA festival is in its 25th year and will be held virtually for the first time this year, starting July 1. “It is such a high honor for the LA Shorts International Film Festival to welcome Kohima into competition this year. Only a handful of films were accepted into the brand-new Music/Dance category. In fact, we created the special Music/Dance program due to high quality content from exceptional artists such as Paul McCartney, Yo-Yo Ma and India’s own Saahil Bhargava,” festival founder and director Robert Arentz said in a statement.