On The Trail Of Connection … cinema for the COVID Era

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.”

― E.M. Forster, Howards End


Scene from ‘Khamakha’ (Videograb from YouTube)

History has enough examples of culture stepping in during disasters to save humanity, through Poetry, through Literature, through Creativity, through Art. Perhaps instead of worrying about Corona Vaccine, or fearing more deaths from open beaches and bars and restaurants, or is there going to be an election – really?, we can read one good poem a day or look at one classic painting a day, or try to follow Deepak Chopra’s logic of survival and upliftment of life.

Or we can watch one good film a day. Although, the science of Aesthetics says that the art of the celluloid is the least artistic, it will still serve a purpose during these trying times. It will help keep our eyes and part of our brains engaged. And, sometimes some poetic pieces would bring back memories of simple realities of life along with tons of nostalgia sticking to  some part of our hearts, going on reverberating for days, leading to unaware virtual gestures of shaking them off.

And so, it is worth it. To watch a good film a day. A short film of half an hour or less may become the required dose during home dwelling days. YouTube is full of free short films and web series the list of which pops up on search for Indian Short Films. Yes, Indian, because we all need some nostalgia as we are frustrated that we cannot go island hunting with the HGTV team, and are tired of watching fish and meat torn apart on episodes of Chopped.

A recent film on Connecting circulating on WhatsApp is “Raabta”, a 3-minute short, bringing up memories of long time friends one can’t see during these isolation times. Produced by Full Circle Shorts and Anand Wagle, the film is directed by Gautam Vaze, and is written by Nakul Sharma, featuring three talented artists – Neena Kulkarni, Arundhati Nag, and Aayushi Lahiri. The story of raabta or connection involves continued efforts of a daughter, and a geographically distant friend of the ailing mother to keep the spirits up. Virtual Bingo plays a major role in the film accompanied by cryptic comments from the two long time friends. This nice and touching film makes us wonder if we all should also do something similar.

And then there is a 17-minute short Connection Story available for free viewing. “Khamakha” takes us on a journey of discovering new connections whether on a bus or in life. Soft and romantic, this one evokes desires of all the journeys one forgot to take. Directed by Aarti Baddi, the Filmfare Award winner has Manjari Fadnnis and Harshvardhan Rane playing the characters very naturally.  The significance is that one makes a good connection. What one does with it is in one’s own hands.  Does one keep the connection and never lets it go or does one make it momentary? The film makes us wonder.

Continuing on the Connection track, one must stop at “Purana Pyar”, a 22-minute short. A Gorilla Shorts produced by Mridula Ramakrishnan, the film is written and directed by Ambar Chakravarty, and has Mohan Agashe and Lillette Dubey playing the main characters. This Film Fare Award nominee film has already bagged the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Calcutta International CULT Film Festival and Special Jury Award at the Mumbai International Short Film Festival, and has been a finalist at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York.

The Connection story of “Purana Pyar” makes us hold the hands of the aging couple and run away to the mountains and roads of old memories of each characters. The connection the two characters make at the old age home is that of easy friendship which requires no definition. Funny in parts, the film is a refreshing look at human relationships as Lillette Dubey offers a beautiful performance the like of a joyous stream free flowing down the mountaineous path. Bringing the harsh reality of aging lives, it also offers a sunny solution – just Be, and Do what brings Joy!! And only connect!  How one views new-found connections and where one goes with them, is left unsaid.

Yet another Connection story, this time a mini web series in 7 parts, will keep us interested in the struggles and for Film School students bring back aches that are close to the hearts. Written and directed by Arpit Gangwal and co-directed by Chavvi Tak and Anuj Pandey, the series is about finding oneself and one’s career path in life. Those who are bitten by the film making bug will identify with every bit of the episodes. It is a film on how to make a film, and a treatise on how to develop great comradery. Reminiscent of the erstwhile TV series “Wonder Years”, “No Offense” offers explanations and historical links in the story in the form of personal narratives by the main character played by Sonesh Arya who seems to be made for that role. Sakshi Singh and Sufi Khan are not far behind, creating a lovely circle of frank and loving friendship.  And, the series becomes all the more significant during these trying times as the main character lifts himself up  and renews faith in life and in hope for future. Sonesh Arya’s ease of a bird in flight is matched by his two comrades, Sakshi Singh and Sufi Khan atop beautiful Jaipur.

The world, nature, history and humanity all have seen the Great Plague, the HIV/AIDS, H1N1 Spanish Flu, World Wars, Tsunamis, and more. We are still here. And so, as the English Poet Dylan Thomas says:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;



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