‘Amazon Mini Movie Festival’ Short Films Review: Some Are A Total Delight But Most Of Them Are Just A Misfire

Short films encapsulate a different technique of storytelling, even though they are based on the same structure as feature-length films. Often being specific to a particular theme, they aim to take you to the point of realization and leave you there in its tinted shadow. There are risks involved as well, that threaten to make it all seem lazy and didactic when the story is told in a lousy manner. In any format, filmmaking involves the unique nature of the medium to delve into meaningful stories that create a slight shift in our senses and sometimes manage to stay in our heads for a long time. The five short films recently released by Amazon Mini TV as part of the Mini Film Festival try to explore the varying themes of modern life filled by the rise of social media, the insecurities it creates, and how we have turned into digital beings with a significant part of ourselves reflecting on the internet.


Barring “Good Morning,” which explores a mother’s life and the war she has to fight at home, all the rest have social media as an essential background in their plot. Directed by Jyoti Kapur Das, the film tries to make a good connection between motherhood and nationhood but fails to bring them together on the screen. It is one of the weakest films of the bunch, with scenes not written right and the execution lacking finesse. If only the craft was enhanced enough and the initial one-liner idea was explored cleverly, the film would make for an exciting watch. But what remains now is a story that is structurally complete but emotionally distant.

“The List,” directed by Gaurav Dave, goes on an exploration of a modern couple in their thirties by depicting  their daily life that is filled with robotic activities. Dave treats the film in an overtly literal manner by having the major theme shouted out from the most apparent element: acting. The performances of the characters are so designed as to resemble robots, something which the film points to at multiple times. With even the production design done in a certain way that pushes the dryness and the repetition further, the film manages to create its own world, but it over does some things. It feels that Gaurav is repeatedly underlining similar scenes that give the same idea, and hence after a point, there is nothing new left to  bring out what has not already been said. Due to this, the film just falls short of hitting it out of the park, but it has some clever moments which still manage to provoke some thought.


With the explosion of social media, an idea of the self and how we look at ourselves is largely affected. With RJ Mallishka as the subject, Heena Dsouza explores the beauty standards set by social media that create insecurities at large. While tackling an important topic, the narrative tendencies take a back seat and don’t, as such, help to give wings to its themes. In a lot of instances, it feels more like an awareness campaign than a short film, and this happens because it tries to fit much into its short duration and doesn’t use the elements of cinema to its advantage. There is a clever twist in the end that brings it all together, and it manages to make a voice that is finally firm, but by then, it has already lost the battle. Mallishka is fairly honest in her portrayal of a woman stuck in the beauty standards. She brings out the insecurities of a woman directed by popular culture, to be uncomfortable in her body, very well. A film suffers when the point that the filmmaker wants to make pokes too deep into the narrative without the narrative bringing it out. It starts acting more like a speech than a film in that case. ‘Parde mein rehne do’ becomes that by the end, while trying to fit in to be a film.

“Vakeel Babu” is about a lawyer who wants to become famous on social media by making videos on the law while not being consistent in meeting the needs of his clients. He makes a video explaining the law on domestic violence, and one woman gets in touch with him, asking him to fight for her. It’s a fight of the conscience that ensues for the next 22 minutes in a role brilliantly played by Abhishek Banerjee. Director Sumit Purohit is in full control of how he wishes the film to look, and it becomes a great example of how a short film can focus on the specific while making a more significant point about an important thing. In the quest of the lawyer as he rekindles a relationship with the law, some aspects of the domestic violence act are brought forward. As all of this is packed together in the story, the narrative becomes the medium, making all of this visible. The dialogues are nicely written, bringing out the nuances of the story in a far better way while also being sensitive. It is the most subtle film of the bunch, with a story that dances with simplicity and grace. It is like a silent gush of wind that makes its presence felt only when the skin is provoked with its coldness.


“Conditions Apply” is a bravely written film that rows on an intelligent concept in the waters of the complexities that modern romantic relationships bring. Puja Banerjee commits the story to a girl facing the consequences of a breakup. While designing an imaginary place to fill it with ideas of love and heartbreak, she manages to churn an emotional connection with her story. The way the concept is designed brings out everything from the story and takes it to another level of depth, especially with the twist midway that turns things upside down. This is a powerful way to invoke emotion when the aesthetics force you to feel a certain way about the characters. The performances of the leads are bang on, bringing us closer to the world and its people. It is the most emotionally alive film of the five and also the most innovative in terms of how its imaginative world interacts with the passions of the heart.

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Shreyas Pande
Shreyas Pande
Shreyas is a screenwriter who likes contemplating on cinema. That is when he is not writing a poem or quoting some Urdu couplet or posting excessively on his Instagram.

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