Varun Tandon’s short film Syaahi tells the tale of a young boy chafing against his parents’ casual neglect with sweetness and poignancy.

When Vansh (Himanshu Bhandari) is told that he cannot go on a trek organised by his school, he is disappointed and enraged by his parents’ refusal. Since Vansh’s father (Gopal Datt) is a novelist whose books have not been getting published, money is a niggling issue at his home. As the child decides to take matters into his own hands, he encounters problems that could not have foreseen.

A simple coming-of-age story, Syaahi is beautifully muted, with music ringing out at the right moments to portray Vansh’s quiet angst. Since the film is set in a hilly town, the boy’s labourious trudge up and down steep slopes almost seems like a parable of his first shaky step into adulthood.

Syaahi won a special mention at the National Film Awards this year and has been screened at many film festivals. It was released by Large Short Films, and is available on their YouTube channel.