Directors: Rahul V. Chittella, Amira Bhargava, Arunima Sharma, Annie Zaidi, Pratik Rajen Kothari, Supriya Sharma, Satish Raj Kasireddi
Shor Se Shuruaat is an omnibus of seven short films. These films have been made by budding directors, each one of whom was handpicked and mentored by some of India's leading filmmakers. These include Shyam Benegal, Mira Nair, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar and Homi Adajania. Each film is based on the theme of noise or shor. The interpretations of course are vastly different.
So Rahul V. Chittella's striking Azaad is about the silencing of dissenting voices. It features a terrific performance by Atul Kulkarni. Arunima Sharma's Yellow Tin Cup Phone is a stylized, whimsical take on the sweet romance between a girl oversensitive to sound and a boy oversensitive to colour. This is the most visually inventive film in the collection and it's not a surprise to discover that the mentor is Homi Adajania. Amira Bhargava, mentored by Zoya Akhtar, tells a lovely story of a young boy on the streets of Mumbai. Aamer is hearing-impaired. We see what happens when his mother is finally able to cobble together enough money to buy him a hearing aid. The story culminates predictably but the telling is skillful and the little boy playing Aamer is luminous.
In Supriya Sharma's Dhvani, Sanjai Mishra plays a death row inmate who is living out his last days in solitary confinement and desperately wants to hear the sounds of life. Mishra's creased, devastated face gives the film an emotional heft. But some of the others don't work as well. Hell O Hello, directed by Pratik Rajen Kothari who was mentored by Shyam Benegal, is a repetitive take on consumerism and telemarketing. Imtiaz Ali's protégée Satish Raj Kasireddi gives us Mia I'm about a young girl who becomes a viral rap sensation. It's predictable and pretentious. Annie Zaidi's Decibel, the only sci-fi story here, is about a future in which we all need assistance to sleep. The film, mentored by Sriram Raghavan, falters in execution.
Shor Se Shuruaat is, as omnibuses tend to be, uneven. It's also unsatisfying. The less successful films weigh heavily on the better ones because they wear you out. But this is a wonderful idea which nurtures new talent and gives viewers an opportunity to discover emerging voices. While this edition might not soar, we need many more like it.
Shor Se Shuruaat is more a film lab than a film so I prefer not to rate it.
I'm eager to see what these directors do next.