Baatein: Short Film Review
“Here’s why you should watch Madmidaas Films’ latest short, Baatein, directed and written by Adeeb Rais. It follows a documentary filmmaker who visits a grieving mother. What follows is a conversation that leaves us all with something to reflect upon…”
Set in the quaint little town of Palghar, silently located in the outliers of Mumbai, ‘Baatein’ follows Jeet Khurana, a young documentary filmmaker, as he visits and spends time with Mrs. Deshpande, a widow grieving the loss of her young son, and her niece, Tulika. The three develop a bond over lunch, opening their hearts out to each other, expressing their emotions of love, loss, and grief. However, an unexpected turn in the conversation permanently changes their entire outlook towards life.
Baatein is about a lot of things, but most importantly, about a conversation we all need to have – as an individual, a group, and society at large. That conversation is about mental health – an aspect of well-being that is often swept under the rug, ignored, and not talked about at all.
The short film grabs your attention from the start. It’s difficult to place humor within a short film as emotionally heavy as this one, but Baatein succeeds in doing so. It pulls you in with its well-placed light-hearted humor and makes you stay with the conversations that follow.
There’s a lot to unpack within the short film. It deals with a lot of issues, without creating a tangled mess. The narrative is smooth, efficient, and the flow from one underlying issue to another is managed successfully. The 20-minute short, in ways subtle and not, sheds light on a lot of contemporary issues – including ones like love, loss, grief, mental health and the stigma around it, bullying, loneliness, lack of support system for the youth, and so much more. There is a lot to discuss and the short film definitely makes you contemplate it all.
It deals with heavy and important topics without seeming preachy. There is a serious lacuna about discussions on mental health in Indian media and this short film is a contribution towards filling that gap. It does not teach or preach, it works to initiate thoughts, discussions, and conversations over the topic. And that is what is required.
The storyline has layers upon layers, which are peeled off one by one during the conversations that happen during and after lunch. This short film is not just timely and relevant today but gives a strong message through its spoken and unspoken conversations.
Other than the concept and the execution, the acting is a job done well too. Supriya Pilgaonkar is excellent as a mother who hides her grief behind the smile. You can, however, see the sorrow in her eyes, making fleeting appearances every now and then. Adeeb Rais, too, plays his part with ease. His character, Jeet, is a hesitant filmmaker who knows he is doing something wrong to lead to something right, and Adeeb successfully portrays the various shades to his character. Shivani Raghuvanshi shines out in her role as well.
The short film, having such a powerful and heartfelt message throughout, ends with a dialogue that has an equally strong impact – “Maybe listening is all it takes.” – hoping that it will reverberate in the viewers’ minds and make them open to discussions on mental health.
Not a thing.
Baatein intends to initiate a conversation that is extremely necessary in today’s society. With a powerful storyline and a strong message, it definitely creates an impact.
Adeeb Rais is the director and writer of the award-winning short film, Auntyji, starring Shabana Azmi and Anmol Rodriquez, and was the director, writer, and lead in the MX Player Original, Yeh Crazy Dil.
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