Long Story Short: Naseeruddin Shah’s ‘Man Woman Man Woman’ is Feel-Good Ode to Love and Grief

Rahul Desai

Man Woman Man Woman (“MWMW”)

A 26-minute short film directed by Naseeruddin Shah, opens with a familiar scene. A middle-aged man (Tarun Dhanrajgir) is making his favourite ham-and-cheese sandwich. He’s in a good mood, but isn’t very attuned to cooking.

The Credits Read ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’ Twice

While writing about nameless characters, we tend to describe them by association – the middle-aged man’s son, the son’s girlfriend, the young man’s dad, the young woman’s mother – defined by our perceptions of ‘main character energy’.

Older Generation Exists At The Same Level As The Young One 

If someone opens a film, maybe he or she is the protagonist by default. If someone is young, maybe they’re the real story. But this short is designed to imply that all four are protagonists in their own right.

The Performances Are Sweet And Unobtrusive

I can never tire of watching Ratna Pathak Shah play middle-aged women who reclaim their agency as social, sexual and emotional beings. It never feels like she’s making a statement, or doing it for the sake of a hashtag-laden script.

It’s Still a Film About Grief And Longing

The result is a feel-good story that becomes progressive without trying too hard. It’s a simple and hopeful one. It’s about moving ahead without moving on – and sadness that earns the right to evolve into happiness.