Director: Neeraj Udhwani
Cast: Saqib Saleem, Arif Zakaria, Charu Rohatgi, Abeer Pandit
Having been brought up by a supportive and relatively nondramatic set of parents, I always found it difficult to empathize with the concept of rebellion. I never could fathom the idea of emotional estrangement. I found it impossible to understand why fathers would be domineering, why mothers would be submissive, or why children choose to survive in such an atmosphere of fear and unrest within their own four walls.
Which is why I am constantly fascinated by storytelling tropes involving such characters. I want to learn more from each film dealing with this theme, so that I can better comprehend the people around me. Films like Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan, and books like Andre Agassi’s Open, have helped me respect the validity – and variety – of these dysfunctional equations a little more. There’s a difference between problematic adults projecting their own unresolved issues onto their kids, and ambitious adults projecting their unreasonable expectations onto their kids. Aamad, a short by Neeraj Udhwani, tries to explore the latter scenario. It’s too short a film to effectively convey a lifetime of suppressed mechanics, but just about manages to communicate the specificity of its subject.
Amaad becomes about two flawed men uniting through a sense of loss. There are no winners here
It’s normally easy to paint the ruthless adult as the villain, but things are always more complicated than that. Those who want to make heroes out of their kids by not being heroes are probably a cinematically misrepresented lot. The good thing about Aamad is that it addresses the humanity of this dynamic without quite taking sides. It becomes about two flawed men uniting through a sense of loss. There are no winners here.
It knows that the father (Arif Zakaria, ironically blessed with a villainous face) is unreasonable because he is an artist – gifted people often find it harder to understand the ordinariness of mere mortals, especially in their own homes – and it knows that the grown-up son (Saqib Saleem, as Abhay) is now mature enough to notice this. It knows that the stubborn traditionalism of Indian culture has incorrectly conditioned sons like Abhay to feel responsible for the fractured cement of castles built in the air. Abhay is the bigger person in this relationship by default. He chose to grow up, unlike his old man, who might have failed to recognize the distinction between resolute fatherhood and strong-minded mentorship.
A man who has held a grudge against his son for so long is conventionally not someone that is offered a resolution. The fact that the apology – fueled by death and a form of dance – comes from the person it shouldn’t come from makes this film something more than the simplistic rendition it looks like. Amaad feels a little unfair, much like life, where judgments and grievances amount to nothing when a parent begins to fade away. Guilt is, after all, a young emotion and not an inherited one.
Watch Amaad here: