Making an engaging short film is always a challenge as the maker is severely constrained by the limited amount of screen time available. Traditionally, a film is supposed to have three acts — setup, confrontation, and resolution. This allows the drama to have its ebbs and flows. In the first act, the characters are introduced and the relationships are established. The main character (often referred to as the protagonist) encounters an inciting incident that marks the beginning of her or his journey on the collision path. In the second act, the protagonist attempts to resolve the situation only to face a major setback that leaves her or him in a tight spot. The protagonist perhaps is not yet equipped to deal with the enormity of the challenge. By the time we enter the third act the protagonist is a changed person. She or he has either acquired some new skill or a friend or a higher sense of awareness needed to overcome the final obstacle. So, naturally, time is essential to telling a good story. And that's precisely why making good short films is never an easy proposition.
In Kathak, 'Aamad' marks the initiation of spoken rhythms which also signal the entry of the performer.
In recent times short films have been witnessing a healthy trend. Earlier they were mostly associated with students and aspiring filmmakers but now they are being made on a professional scale. YouTube has been a game changer in this regard. Not only does it provide a platform for these films, it also allows for monetization or for the filmmaker to make money. In other words, the filmmaker can hope to recover their cost at some point.
I recently came across a short film called Aamad on a YouTube Channel called 'Terribly Tiny Talkies'. Written and directed by Neeraj Udhwani (who wrote the Ashima Chibber directed comedy Mere Dad Ki Maruti), Aamad offers an interesting take on the father-son relationship. The short film stars Saqib Saleem, Arif Zakaria, Charu Rohatgi and Abeer Pandit. As I found out, 'Aamad' is not only an Urdu word meaning arrival but it also has an interesting connection with a popular Indian classical dance form. In Kathak, 'Aamad' marks the initiation of spoken rhythms which also signal the entry of the performer. The fact that the short film shares a close association with Kathak makes the title quite relevant.
In a short duration of 12 minutes, 'Aamad' succeeds in telling a touching story of a father who is keen on training his son as a Kathak dancer.
In a short duration of 12 minutes, Aamad succeeds in telling a touching story of a father who is keen on training his son as a Kathak dancer. The father is a Kathak maestro like his father before him and wants to keep the family tradition alive. But his stubborn son seems to have other ideas that only bring humiliation to the father. Years later, the son, now settled in the US, returns home to find his estranged father on his deathbed. Seeing his father lying helpless in the hospital bed he is overcome by a sense of nostalgia and guilt. Aamad handles with utmost delicacy the tender and often painful relationship that universally exists between a father and son. The performances are superb with the veteran Arif Zakaria playing the role of the father with great conviction. The younger and the elder versions of the son are played equally well by Abeer Pandit and Saqib Saleem, respectively. The latter's Kathak performance next to his father's deathbed ends up giving the viewer goosebumps. Overall, Aamad makes for an engaging short film that succeeds in tugging at our heartstrings.
Aamad - Short Film (YouTube)
A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.