Short Takes: Gaayam

Name: Gaayam

Director: Srujan Attada

Producer: Langulya Creations

The South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, blessed with the rich alluvial deltas of the rivers Godavari and Krishna, had long been known as the “అన్నపూర్ణ” or “Annapoorna”,  “The Rice Bowl of India” and its farmers “అన్నదాత” or “Annadaatha” or “The Donor of Rice”.

But in recent years, the ever failing monsoons, lack of proper pricing system and high interest rates have all played a part in the large number of farmers’ suicides across the state. This is the premise of director Srujan Attada’s first short film “Gaayam”.

gaayam

With this backdrop, the director shows us a small boy in rural Andhra, selected in his school to play a part in a drama, wanting his poor father to get him clothes that would suit his part. The farmer is in deep debts, and his wife keeps mentioning the money lenders. The father does not know what to do. Doe the farmer get his son those new clothes? Does he repay his loans?

Short films have been a recent, silent trend in India. Until now, film-making has been a far, distant dream for the large masses in India. But the cheap availability of digital cameras and YouTube has changed the scenario.

A lot of people who make these short films, take up the problems of the urban youth – love, social networking, IT jobs and job culture as their subject. In this respect, it is commendable that Srujan Attada, has chosen a rural backdrop and a serious issue as the subject for his first film.

On a technical note, the sound mixing and dubbing of dialogues and the dialogues themselves could have been better. But these are minor issues for a first time director and I am sure these will be sorted out in his later films. It should be noted that on the basis of the subject alone for his first film, Srujan is a promising starter.

The running time is only fifteen minutes, and a subject like this can easily demand a much longer running time. The director could have easily added another 40-50 minutes of footage, give the film some flesh and blood, and make it an hour-long feature.

“Gaayam” reminds me of the Italian neo-realist film “L’Albero degli Zoccoli” or “The Tree of Wooden Clogs” (1978) by Ermanno Olmi with a similar story. The director Ermanno Olmi took this backdrop as a oppurtunity to document the culture and living conditions of farmers in 19th century rural Italy.

Issues like how a child’s education could mean a lot to the uneducated farmers, and the troubles of a single mother are touched upon. More importantly, a longer running time, helps the audience get acquainted with the characters and consequently lead to a much bigger emotional impact.

But, like I said, this is a first time director, and if Srujan has more ambition and vision, I think he could and would make better movies in the future.

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