A special program by Cecilia Cossio
Shazia Iqbal and Tarun Dudeja did not know each other personally, though they had heard about each other or, better, about each other’s films. Thanks to the Short they have managed to actually come into contact, as this year’s edition of ‘India special’ presents both the two short films that have brought their directors to the limelight, respectively Bebaak (Defiance, 2019) and Khayali pulao (Castles in the Air, 2020). Although different, the two works have much in common. More caustic the former, ‘lighter’ the latter, they both direct their critical attention towards a patriarcal and conservative environment determined to maintain the restrictions and the constraints imposed upon women. Both films begin with a sentence that encapsulates their thought. In Bebaak the author is Alejandro Jodorowsky: “Birds born in a cage think that flying is an illness”. In Khayali pulao it is the comment to the film preview by Manoj Muntashir, well known lyricist and poet: “Before drawing boundaries on others, ask yourself, who decided to put you in charge of boundaries?”. Fatin and Asha, the protaginists of the two films, must face the prejudices of a man-dominated social ‘cage’ and the boundaries that tradition does not allow a woman to cross. Fatin lives and studies in Bombay, in a liberal-minded family as far as children education is concerned, but is forced to confront a dogmatic and misoginist islamic institution. Asha lives and studies in a village in the State of Haryana and is quite familiar with internet, a technology that she hase to secretly use, as her father is extremely orthodox about what girls are permitted or forbidden. For both of them, clothing – what a woman has to or cannot wear – becomes the metaphor of a quiet but resolute fight to assert their independence.
Shazia Iqbal: an architecture graduate, lives in Mumbai. As production designer/art director, she has worked for commercials and television series, among which the first original Indian series distributed by Netflix, Sacred Games (2018-19), produced and directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap. Anurag, with whom she had previously collaborated as production designer for Mukkabaaz (The Brawler, 2017), was also the producer of her directorial debut in 2019, Bebaak, winner of many national and international awards. In the same year, her film script Blood Circle was selected together with other five Indian works for a Independent Film Global Media Makers project of cultural exchange between the American cinema industry and professionals from West/South Asia and Turkey.
Tarun Dudeja: born and brought up in in Panipat (Haryana). A chemistry graduate from Delhi University, he was a member of the theatre group Katyayani and performed in India and abroad. He then shifted to Mumbai and worked as assistant director for UTV, one of the foremost film production companies in India. He also played small roles in some films and is also known as screen and dialogue writer (for television series and for a segment of the anthological film Unpaused, 2020). His directorial debut was in 2015 with the short The Listener, where a man works in a restaurant as ‘listener’ of the customers’ problems. It was presented also at European festivals (in particular at the 17th International Festival Dream Shorts, Ravenna). Then in 2020 Khayali pulao and his notoriety.
BEBAAK (Dying Wind in Her Hair),
direction, story, screenplay, dialogue: Shazia Iqbal
camera: Sachin Gadankush
editing: Dipika Kaira, Jabeen Merchant
music: Alokananda Dasgupta
production: Anurag Kashyap, Ajay Rai, Shazia Iqbal
In order to complete her studies of architecture, Fatin turns to a Muslim Trust that supports the education of children of their community. The examiner is very strict as he does not agree with her choice and believes the profession she has chosen to be unfit for a woman; in addition, he blames her for not having a proper religious education and for going around ‘half-naked’, instead of wearing the traditional hijab. Fatin understands that if she wants to obtain the scholarship she has to betray her principles. The gaze of a little girl will be crucial.
KHAYALI PULAO (Daydreaming)
direction, story, : Tarun Dudeja
camera: Manoj Kumar Khatoi
editing: Pooja Pillai, Manish Sharma
music: Sanket Sane, Mohit Gaur Rishi Dutta, Shivangi Bhayana,Parth Saini
production: One Digital Entertainment
Asha (Prajakta Koli aka MostlySane, a YouTube star) is a brilliant student in a school of a small village in the State of Haryana. Suddenly she starts feeling a strong desire to play in the handball team of her school. As she I s a clumsy girl with stiff body movements, the coach tries hard to discourage her, but Asha persists in learning the techniques of the game, even with the help of Internet (she pays a friend to let her use his mobile) and eventually fate gives her a chance. And the reason of such a strong desire is revealed.