'Shuruaat Ka Twist' Review: ‘Gutthi’ stand out amid the Khichdi

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Tanmay Shukla

Shuruaat Ka Twist is an anthology film featuring six short films directed by young Indian filmmakers. Produced under the banner of HumaraMovie and in association with PVR, the shorts have been mentored by some of India’s leading filmmakers like Rajkumar Hirani, Vikramaditya Motwane, Raj Kumar Gupta and Amit Masurkur.

Shuruaat Ka Twist begins with Tap-Tap directed by Praveen Fernandes starring Chunky Pandey, who plays a music composer, once successful, now struggling to make ends meet. He is still unable to come to terms with his present, and is still living in the 80s-90s era. He wears a retro suit and a polka-dotted tie, and drinks country liqueur while flirting with his imaginary date bragging about the good old days when he used to compose a song in minutes. However, he lives in a cramped apartment which reminded me of Barton Fink’s hotel room in its mood.It’s an interesting film with a clever ending, made better by seeing Chunky Pandey in a fresh look.

Amit Sial stars in the second short directed by Hanish Kalia. Khauff is about aman in early thirties frightened with frequent nightmares. The acting is decent and twist is exciting, but the dialogues make it bit of a drag.

Adi Sonal starring Neena Gupta and Trimala Adhikari is directed by Heena D’Souza explores the life in a typical Sindhi household, not seen very often on cinema, centered around the theme of Teej, away from the Bollywoodization of Karva Chauth. The short also features most number of characters among all the shorts, whose presence make the film richer in comparison to the rest. Both Gupta and Adhikari nail their characters to perfection. Therealistic depiction of a traditional Sindhi family is achieved by the detailing in production design, cinematography and lighting. The dialogues too are convincingwhich take away the attention from the slow pace.

The fourth short, Bhaskar Calling, directed by Sanjiv Kishinchandani starring ShahriyarAtai, Kamil Shaikh, Delnaaz Irani is about an old Parsi man who is frustrated by frequent calls for easy loan from a bank’s tele-marketer. It’s one of weaker shorts because of the cliché puns like “Pity Usha” and the way it is directed makes it seem more like an ad-film.

The idea of a seemingly usual drama that has to take a turn for no other reason but for the sake of a ‘twist’ which has worked in the past, but has now become a pattern that many young Indian filmmakers seem are finding it hard to get rid of.

The fifth short, Gutthi-The Knot directed by Avalokita is easily the best in the anthology. Not that it does not have a twist, it does. Otherwise it wouldn’t be an Indian short film, but it stands out because it is not about the ‘twist’. Gutthi stands out amid the khichdi because of its focused direction. Avalokita seem to know the characters as well as the setting, Versova, inside out. She captures the everyday experience of a struggling filmmakers and artists who come from all corners of the country and absorb everything the ‘mayanagari’ throws at them. Some get inspired, but most of them bury their dreams.

The sixth and the final short, Guddu, directed by Gaurav Mehrastarring Anurita Jha ended the film on the most surprising, albeit wholesome, twist. However, Shuruaat Ka Twist on the whole falls apart as an anthology filmbecause of the absence of any narrative or thematic overarch. The six shorts will benefit more with standalone viewing rather than in an anthology.The unifying theme of ‘twist’ sinks under the weight of genres too many like thriller, drama, comedy and slice-of-life which feels forced. Shuruaat Ka Twist is tonally inconsistent and make for a jarring, incongruent whole that does have its moments but not nearly enough to justify the rather long runtime of 142 minutes.

Short films are both an experiment in film medium and also act as a transition to feature films for almost every film director. Some of the landmark short films like An Andalusian Dog by Luis Bunuel, The Hearts of Age by Orson Welles, La Jette by Chris Marker, Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB by George Lucas, The Big Shave by Martin Scorsese, An Encounter with Faces by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Cigarettes & Coffee by Paul Thomas Anderson, and Bottle Rocket by Wes Anderson are credited with launching their careers. I am confident that Gutthi-The Knot will serve as a launching pad for Avalokita Dutt’s filmmaking career, while the rest will also find the right note, sooner rather than later, to channel their vision. 

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