Small is beautiful and brevity the soul of wit, they say. Of course, it’s not always true. But here’s a list of what we think are some of the best short films made in Malayalam cinema in 2018 that capture that spirit with their tight plots, witty stories, engaging tales and masterful filmmaking - all in 30 minutes or less!
These films belong to different genres and the themes explore situations that are slice of life and extraordinary circumstances. While some of the films feature well-known actors, others have new faces. All of them, though, manage to retain your interest to the end.
Directed by Remya Raj, it is the only Malayalam short to be selected in the Indian Panorama section of the recently concluded International Film Festival of India. The narrative of the film picks up from where a 20-something lad hitches a ride on a lorry. What seems like a brief journey back home, soon escalates into a terrifying trip, when he realises that the driver might be a predator.
With stunning performances (Dileesh Pothan, Chetan), top notch cinematography (Girish Gangadharan) and sound design (Ranganathan Ravee), Midnight Run is an intriguing exploration of the hunter-prey equation.
With a running time of 23 minutes, Christo Tomy’s (an alumnus of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute) film centres around a 17-year-old girl who is pregnant and has been left in the lurch by her boyfriend.
Placed in suburban Kolkata, the narrative traces her life at home and school, all the while mirroring her anxieties and fears, grappling with a terrible secret and yet unyielding in her quest to locate him. The telling is raw and realistic, the theme is relevant, well-told and the characters nicely written. And the actor (Krishna Padmakumar) who plays the teenager—she simply lives the part. The scenes with her lover are especially well-crafted.
A routine lover’s tiff forms the centre of the narrative. But what really turns it engaging are the conversations, so ordinary, yet so tangible and their reactions to it. Two lovers, a boy (Vineeth Viswam) and girl (Sree Renjini) and their ordinary love story that leaves you sated. He is a wannabe actor and she is an aspiring dancer; these two aspects are smartly interlinked into the narrative.
Look out for that scene where he is auditioning for a role and it soon ends up as an apology to her, the actor is superb there. Directed and written by Girish AD, Mookuthi is worth its time.
He runs a taxi and a female customer’s strange request for cigarettes at night, tickles his falsified morality and double standards, leading to a hilarious encounter. Though it is easy to predict what’s coming, director Shahbaz CA succeeds in maintaining the suspense and thrill, keeping us thoroughly glued to the screen. Apart from being nicely shot, Sudev Nair as the taxi driver is a major plus and his expressions are bang on.
The film begins on a happy note. An elderly man (Alencier Lopez) is jiving to jazz, having a conversation with his wife over the phone, with a promise to get tickets for a much-talked about show. That’s when he has a visitor—a woman (Gilu Joseph), uncertain and dejected. She wants help and he is a therapist.
Written by Vinu Janardanan, directed by Soumya Sadanandan, the film is also trying to wrap its head around the stigma attached with depression and dementia in today’s world. Though one isn’t entirely sure how far it has managed to convey this to the audience, there are interesting sketches given to the woman, and also a newer perspective about certain “popular” professions in the world. What you see isn’t always what you get. Good one.
Waft begins with a shot of a small army of brown ants, understandably scrambling for work. Metaphorically this sets the tempo to introduce the restless and agitated central character, Akshat. His lover is missing and his recurrent memory of her was when she attempted the ice bucket challenge. It all leads to ALS (the film also uses TV footages of Stephen Hawking, to probably put things in better perspective). The highpoint of the film is the lead actor (Ashish Shashidhar) who literally throws himself into the garb of the anguished lover. True, the conversations could have been less theatrical (the English dialogues were a sour point) and it needed a better closure, but it’s a love story that has its heart in the right place.
Director Shruthi Namboodiri likes to call it a short musical and it is. A dusty old book, filled with black and white pictures of a younger Charulatha, takes her back to an old romance set during the Emergency. Between Charu and Amal.
Music breezes into the narrative and takes one to the old-world charm of Kolkata, to the intensity of Tagore’s poetry and Ray’s imagery. The colour tones are beautiful; Parvathy Menon looks ethereal in handloom saris and red bindis while lyricist Hari Narayanan in warm khadi kurtas complements her. Music, nostalgia, poetry and romance—it all comes together beautifully in Charulatha.