Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet

Most importantly it (the film) revisits the premise that a child is the unfulfilled dream of an adult. It salutes the parent not for egging the child to fulfil her dreams but for nurturing her child as her dream.

We all have dreams. Some chase them with passion. Some get waylaid. In the midst of mindsets and stereotypes and like our films the instances of the odd example of defiance are out for viewing. Director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari offers one such illustration. Thematically, cinematically. What is particularly noticeable about the 90-odd minute exercise apart from brevity is the fact that it is sweet without being syrupy and emotive without being over dramatic.
It punctuates its uncomplicated storyline with punch lines about how students do not have the luxury in the country to choose their careers; how institutions can be insensitive to students; how parents believe by default that making engineers and doctors of their children is the means to social acceptance and how the social divide between the middle-class and the not so middle-class is distinct and even dreams are made for classes.
Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) plays a single mother from a chawl who dreams to extricate her daughter from poverty and strongly believes education makes the difference. She takes up multiple jobs and runs errands to ensure that her piggy bank bulges for the days when she has to pay for her daughter’s education. The daughter Apeksha (Riya Shukla) does not share the vision, idea or dream. She is the spirited youngster who knows that her mom is indulging in wild day dreams and making a mannequin of her unfulfilled desires. When the mother assures her that she knows best since she is her mother: Maa hoon teri, she retorts: To phir baap ban ne ki koshish mat kar. The daughter reasons that education is a wasteful investment given the fact that her boundaries are effectively inhibited by poverty.
The conflict is thus laid out. It pans out without much ado. Chanda’s benefactor Dr Ms Saxena (Ratna Pathak Shah) pushes her to go to school herself and challenge her daughter. The daughter finds the move shocking and unacceptable. She expects ridicule from peers and lo and behold receives just that! However, Chanda is made of sterner stuff – or so is her ambition to see her daughter cross the Rubicon and not return to poverty and being a maid. Apeksha’s friends Sweetie (Neha) and Pintoo (Prashant Tiwari) form a trio in the class and are least interested in academics. They stoically are indifferent to the taunts of the maths teacher and their phobia for mathematics is typical. Even Chanda believes that her daughter is intelligent but weak in math.
Mom’s dreams and the daughter’s social space come to clash. The conflict leads to the inevitable domestic disharmony. All along we have Chanda a picture of determination and Apeksha the paradigm of indifference and defiance. As film buffs we know that the determined mother is bound to succeed. We also know that the only way to keep the human spirit is to tell the tale of those who do not just dare to dream but work to achieve the dreams and etch a place for themselves.
This is just that good evening film, you do not mind seeing. There isn’t much happening that hurts or irritates you. It does not throw too many questions, hurl platitudes or irritate you with emotional bruises or prickly heat. The performers too are just right. Be it Pankaj Tripathi as the math teacher or Ratna Pathak Shah as the retired doctor who helps out the maid servant with her dreams, they do enough to be authentic and ensure that they do not overdo to be dramatic. The support cast of the children is perfect with no profound profanities. Then there is the brewing relationship between the mother and daughter essayed with studied nicety by Swara Bhaskar and Riya Shukla, riveting around whom Ashwini Iyer weaves her humane tale.
Many would empathise with the phobia for maths or being driven by the dreams of our parents and being rejected at some crucial point of our school lives. Most importantly it (the film) revisits the premise that a child is the unfulfilled dream of an adult. It salutes the parent not for egging the child to fulfil her dreams but for nurturing her child as her dream.

Cast : Swara Bhaskar, Riya Shukla, Ratna Pathak Shah and Pankaj Tripathi
Direction: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Genre : Drama
Good : Fresh and balanced
Bad : Over simplified

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