Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Prarambha





Prarambha (2007)
Directed by Santosh Sivan
Written by Rajesh Devraj
13 minutes, 50 seconds
Language: Hindi
Part of the AIDS Jaago (AIDS Awake) Series

Initially, I was set to find what I think is the impossible: a Bollywood short film. Instead, I came across these series of short films that acclaimed Indian directors worked together on. Mira Nair, Farhan Ahtar, Vishal Bhardwaj, and Santosh Sivan all made short films in order to make people aware of AIDS and HIV.

The film is straightforward and simple in its approach. Famous Indian dancer and choreographer Prabhu Deva leads as a truck driver who harbors an unknown stow-away in his cargo: a young child named Kittu who is in search of his mother. When they arrive in Mysore, they discover she is in the hospital in her final stages of AIDS. Kittu then reveals he cannot go back to school, because he has contracted HIV like his mother and father, and the school doesn't want him to return. The driver sets forth in making the school take Kittu back, and in the end, Kittu returns and is no longer shunned.

The common thread I heard with people who do not like foreign films is this: I don't like reading while I am watching. I personally don't understand why it's so difficult to read what is being said while watching something, but I can see how people who don't like text on their screen all the time are annoyed by subtitles.

So it benefits that this short film has a simple story to tell. With a short film and a straightforward plot, the need to make people ware of AIDS is done affective and comes across the screen well. This is because with a simple plotline like this, there really isn't much need to focus on the dialogue. The sentences are short, not dramatic, and not long. It's easier to follow along.

What also benefits is that the film is short. I think those who are not a fan of foreign feature lengths will like foreign short films better, because there isn't a lot of time in the film. It's short, to the point, and gets a plot told in a short amount of time, between a minute to fifteen minutes.

The only thing I find sad about the short film is that I feel like the plot is cliche and overdone. A boy going for his mother and finds out that she has AIDS -- and then we discover he himself is HIV positive -- hits the melodramatic cheese factor really high. It's still a cute short film, and it's effective demonstrating AIDS awareness is essential. However it's still predictable in its plotline.

12 comments:

The Takeout Wench. said...

It sounds like a very poignant film, and the cinematography is excellent.
I think it's generally difficult to create short films which are not cliche in some ways. Cliches, however, are not always negative as there can be many entertaining retellings of a similar storyline...

Phantom Lord said...

Well I thought it was a good short film. The filmography was good as it gave you a sense of how India looks and feels on an average day either in the small village or in the big city. I thought it gave a good message about how more needs to be done to educate people about HIV and Aids in the third world. Overall it was good and I would hope films like these help the dialogue over there.

Mike said...

I found the short to be rather interesting and I have no problems viewing films with subtitles. I agree about the melodramatic factor being a bit overdone as well. Another interesting point, which I also agree with, is that foreign short films may be more accessible because the story is more contained and shorter. These films could provide someone with a decent introduction to the world of foreign films

Taiga said...

A short Bollywood film! This in itself is great. The subject matter, not so great. No girl meets boy story here.

She Who Shall Not Be Named said...

the film is very well done. i love it. but then again, i love baliwood films. you're commentary is very well thought out.

Nighthawk Moonshadow said...

Cute film. I thought the end kinda went way too fast and it was kinda cheesy, but it was made up for by the fact that the little kid actor is absolutely ADORABLE.

Hannah said...

Aww that was so cute!
It was really typical though... maybe not cliches exactly but totally predictable. But predictable isn't always a bad thing, it was very cute. I wasn't sure that I would like a Bollywood film without a huge song & dance number, but this was really nice. It's just short enough that reading the subtitles (which I despise!) doesn't get annoying.

the vacant mind. said...

Despite the melodrama/predictability (hello, Bollywood), the matter at hand is made very clear from the beginning. Subtle, it ain't, but that's the point. Hopefully it encouraged plenty of conversation on the subject matter.

jacksfilms said...

Darn, I just left a really long comment and posted it, but the Internet ate it. Oh well, here's the shorter version:

I didn't enjoy this film nearly as much as I thought I would, despite its high production values. Aside from the plot being predictable as others have said, I felt the whole thing felt rushed. Action sequences happen so quickly; one moment the boy is in the hospital with his dying mother, then BAM he's back at school with his new father-figure.

immaturity said...

I agree that it was cute, though melodramatic and kind of predictable. It gets a bit cheesy at the end when trying to get Kittu back into the school, but overall I did think it was a simple, endearing film. I also think it benefited from being short, but more because I know I would have gotten bored if it were any longer. It was concise enough to say what it wanted to, but I feel that otherwise it would just be dragged out unecessarily.

On another note, I'm always surprised when people don't watch foreign films because they're subtitled (Unless they're dubbed, but I dislike 99% of dubs). I'm so used to subtitles that I really don't feel they affect my experience of the film. Most of the time, I don't even realize I'm reading anything, or that the characters aren't speaking something other than English. Granted, that's if the subtitles are clear and easy to read. When they're in crazy fonts and colours, that's a different matter. :P

Anonymous said...

very sad and heart wrenchubg shot unable to see some of the translations but I get the idea any how

Anonymous said...

I loved this short and your interpretation. Such a bittersweet, although simple tale.