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Ram Gopal VarmaThe fast-catching trend of short films
09th Dec 2007  17.23 IST
By Nikhil Kumar  


It is a genre not yet explored in India. But now short films are catching the imagination of filmmakers.

Ram Gopal Varma was the first one in Bollywood who dared to burn his fingers by making the spooky omnibus of short stories Darna Mana Hai . Undeterred by the film's lackluster show at the box-office, the maverick filmmaker even went on to produce the sequel Darna Zaroori Hai , which met the same disastrous fate.




But the ball was set rolling. The biggest surprise came when Ashwin Kumar , a relatively lesser-known name in 2005, got an Oscar nomination for his short film Little Terrorist just when everyone was hoping for full-length Marathi film Shwaas to make it to the nomination list. Though Kumar did not win the coveted statuette, the nomination of his film was a great morale boost for other budding small-time directors who did not have the resources to make big-budget films.

What followed was a burgeoning of new-age young directors who themselves shot their films on digital cameras - with their friends or amateur actors enacting the roles - and did post-production work (editing, music, effects) in studios within a budget of few thousand rupees. Some of them got the chance to show their works on television (courtesy NDTV Profit) while the others uploaded their movies on the Internet and even participated in online film festivals for short films.

And recently we have seen some established directors experimenting with the genre. Mira Nair , Vishal Bharadwaj , Farhan Akhtar and Santosh Sivan made four short films on HIV/AIDS for the Bill Gates Foundation. The movies, shown on national televisions on World AIDS Day, helped remove the stigma attached to AIDS. The most impressive of the lot was Bharadwaj's 'Blood Brothers'. Shot by the last year's Oscar winning cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, it is a film that educates a viewer about the difference between HIV and AIDS through an interesting story.

Now, mainstream Bollywood directors have dabbled in a unique experimentation of sorts in the recently released Dus Kahaniyaan . Sanjay Gupta , better known for his rip-offs of movies from Hollywood or international cinema, has produced and directed several short stories in the movie along with others like Apoorva Lakhia , Meghna Gulzar , Hansal Mehta and Rohit Roy . Though there are a few dud stories in the film, Meghna Gulzar's 'Puranmaasi', Sanjay Gupta's 'Matrimony' and Rohit Roy's 'Rice Plate' turn out to be brilliant attempts.

Contrary to what may appear, making a good short film is no less a challenge. A director has to dispense with most of the trappings of a full-length feature film and stick to the basic and rudimentary cinematic elements to tell a story that has to engage and make sense within a few minutes of its running time.

It is a challenge. And directors in Bollywood have matured enough to take it, just as the audiences are willing to accept it.



Related
Ram Gopal Varma
Darna Mana Hai
Darna Zaroori Hai
Ashwin Kumar
Little Terrorist
Shwaas
Mira Nair
Vishal Bharadwaj
Farhan Akhtar
Santosh Sivan
Dus Kahaniyaan
Sanjay Gupta
Apoorva Lakhia
Meghna Gulzar
Hansal Mehta
Rohit Roy





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