'Aamad' Review: A short film by Neeraj Udhwani that tugs at the heartstrings

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Making an engaging short film is always a challenge. For, the maker is severely bounded by time. Traditionally a film is supposed to have three acts viz. Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution. This allows the drama to have its ebbs and flows. In the first act, the characters are introduced and the relationships are established. The main character (often referred to as the protagonist) encounters an inciting incident that marks the beginning of his/her journey on the collision path. In the second act, the protagonist attempts to resolve the situation only to face a major setback that leaves him/her in a tight spot. The protagonist perhaps is not yet equipped to deal with the enormity of the challenge. By the time we enter the third act the protagonist is a changed person. He/she has either acquired some new skill or a friend or a higher sense of awareness needed to overcome the final obstacle. So, naturally time is essential to telling a good story. And that’s precisely why making good short films is never an easy proposition.

In the recent times short films have been witnessing a healthy trend. Earlier short films were mostly associated with students and aspiring filmmaker but today there are being made on a professional scale. YouTube has certainly been a game changer in this regard. Not only does it provide a platform for these films but is also allows monetization possible. In other words the makers can hope to recover the cost in a longer run. I recently came across a short film called Aamad on a YouTube Channel called ‘Terribly Tiny Talkies’. Written and directed by Neeraj Udhwani (who wrote the Ashima Chibber-directed comedy Mere Dad Ki Maruti), Aamad offers an interesting take on the father son relationship. The short film stars Saqib Saleem, Arif Zakaria, Charu Rohatgi and Abeer Pandit. Now during my research I found out that ‘Aamad’ is not only an Urdu word meaning arrival but it also has an interesting connotation in connection to a popular Indian classical dance form. In Kathak ‘Aamad’ marks the initiation of the spoken rhythms which also signal the entry of the performer. The fact that the short film shares a close association with Kathak makes its title quite relevant.

In a short duration of 12 minutes, Aamad succeeds in telling a touching story of a father who is keen on training his son as a Kathak dancer. The father is a Kathak maestro like his father before and wants to keep the family tradition alive. But his stubborn son seems to have other ideas which bring ultimate humiliation for the father. Years later, the son, now settled in the US, returns home to find his estranged father on his deathbed. Seeing his father lying helpless on a hospital bed he is overcome by a sense of nostalgia and guilt. Aamad handles with utmost delicacy the tender and often painful relationship that universally exists between a father and a son. The performances are superb with the veteran Arif Zakaria playing the role of the father with great conviction. The younger and the elder versions of the son are played equally well by Abeer Pandit and Saqib Saleem, respectively. The latter’s Kathak performance next to his father’s deathbed ends up giving goosebumps. Overall, Aamad makes for an engaging short film that succeeds in tugging at our heartstrings.

Aamad - Short Film (YouTube)

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