Restless women of all ages both in front of the camera and behind it, concise and sharp storytelling, and a showcase of future talent mark the anthology of short films being streamed on Flipkart’s video streaming platform. The emphasis in Zindagi inShort is on feel-good, even when the evidence suggests that this isn’t always possible. The spread, which has been produced by Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment for Flipkart Video, consists of slices of life that are mostly sweet with a touch of the savoury and the spicy.
The aim, according to a press statement by Prakash Sikaria, Vice-President of Growth and Monetisation at Flipkart, is to empower “young talent by giving them the right platform to tell compelling stories that star an array of talent – from seasoned actors to digital sensations”. The films are all in Hindi. There are no narratives from the southern, eastern and north-east regions – unless a second anthology is in the works.
All the stories end on a twist or two, some of them better realised than others.
In Tahira Kashyap Khurrana’s Pinni, flavour-of-the-season actor Neena Gupta plays a housewife and expert sweet maker from Mohali who is taken for granted by nearly everybody in her life. The pacing is uneven and the twist doesn’t quite have the desired result, but Neena Gupta has tremendous fun.
Joining the “Revenge of the Aunties” sub-category in the anthology is Swaroop Sampat’s Parsi dowager in Rakesh Sain’s Nano So Phobia. Mrs Balsara may or may not be imagining a robbery attempt by a short man she had previously helped put away. Sampat’s Parsi accent is as dubious as the staging.
Things get more serious in Punarvasu Naik’s Sleeping Partner, starring Divya Dutta as a victim of marital rape, Sanjay Kapoor as her cruel partner, and Jitin Gulati as her distraction. The feminist lite treatment ensures a conclusion that nobody saw coming. Yet, Dutta is affecting as the bruised wife, and Sanjay Kapoor is turning out to be a fine cameo artist in small but well-written parts.
The female worldview is also the focus of Vijayeta Kumar’s Sunny Side Upar, starring the talented Malayalam actor Rima Kallingal. Oncologist Kavya’s day is filled with drudgery and drama – the hours at the hospital are long and unending, she doesn’t really want to marry her long-term boyfriend, and a domestic crisis is brewing. Given the pressures, where is the room for personal happiness? As a patient reminds Kavya, “Everybody needs this only ... lol!”
Gautam Govind Sharma’s Chajju Ke Dahi Bhalle is an awful lot like Sachin Garg’s short film Tinder – Ek Prem Katha, only with better production values. Manjot Singh and Aisha Ahmed play inter-faith Tinder users who take a swipe at love.
Another kind of love, less treacherous and more touching, is on display in Vinay Chhawal’s Thappad. The delightful Shafin Patel is the pint-sized Babloo, who stands to a group of boys stalking his sister Bani (Vedika Nawani). Smartly lensed to reflect Babloo’s knee-high view of the world, Thappad skilfully brings Babloo’s comic book fantasies to life.
The wicked Swaaha, which is also the best film in the set, has been written and directed by Smrutika Panigrahi. Deepak Dobriyal and Isha Talwar are in superb form as a married couple who find themselves teetering towards a divorce in the midst of a family wedding. Kapil (Dobriyal) learns that his wife, the mother of their three children, is having an extra-marital affair, and her reaction to his reaction is priceless. This is one film whose twist is wholly earned, helped to no end by Talwar’s insouciant sauciness and Dobriyal’s hilarious agony.