Girl in Red / Gutthi ★★½

Lives of a writer, a garbage collector and a girl are intertwined and lead to an atrocious crime.

Why the slash (/) : Today we are writing the review of two short films who are essentially same vodka in different bottles. We thought to bring these two together, discuss their respective strengths and let the reader decide!

Synopsis: There is an author who wants to write a thriller, but has hit writer-block. He is not able to spin anything new. In this anxiety, his attention turns towards his building’s dustman who also runs all kinds of odd jobs including delivering weed to the flat owners. This dustman is also borderline pervert and skims through all the waste items people throw out, in turn getting evidences of all the gossips of the building. While they bond over marijuana-puffs, the author talks about a girl who was murdered brutally. Is anything common between these three characters?

Story and Screenplay review: The story is not bad. It is just not great, either. Perhaps it is also the treatment of the story that borders on tough to believe scenario. Some vital pieces of the puzzle are also missing, and at times are in contradiction to each other. Screenplay is jumpy at times and especially for ‘Girl in Red‘ version, misses some important scenes which provide justifications to WHYs.

What works for Girl in Red (GIR): Between the two versions, GIR is the newer one, with latest editing, clearly has higher budget and much higher viewership. This is the ‘urbane’ version, and looks pleasant due to better quality (costlier) equipment and setup. Narrative by protagonist sounds better. The language is closer to the normal, north Indian Hindi.

What we didn’t like in GIR: Too many expletives and obscene words without any need. Most of the times they do not even suit the context. Some modifications that are made from earlier version Gutthi are ridiculous and unconvincing. The actors almost look like models which makes the short further contrived.

What works for Gutthi: Gutthi, the original older version is overall much more realistic and credible. There are hardly a few loopholes and the flow is more justified. The actors are suited to the role. Simple faces, day-to-day attires. Even the libraries and the flats look close to the life of an author. This is our preferred version.

What we didn’t like in Gutthi: Practically everything that we liked in GIR. Everything that money can buy – the look, the picture quality etc. Gutthi has that old, low budget camera look, has grainy video and the special effects are basic. It is also ten minutes longer than GIR.

Verdict: Overall an average, the story is worth a watch with all its loopholes. We liked Gutthi version more its more credible story telling, but GIR version is newer and it just the better-looking version! You choose!

AglaPlay Verdict: Average
AglaPlay Rating: 2.5/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: ~17 minutes (GIR), ~27 minutes (Gutthi)
Writer: Abhishek Chatterjee
Director:  Saurabh Varma (GIR) / Abhishek Chatterjee (Gutthi)
Cast of GIR: Nandish Singh, 
Rohit Khurana, 
Nazia Davison  
Cast of Gutthi:
Rathna Shekar Reddy, 
Choeeta Chakrabarti, 
Naren Yadav
Girl in Red: Click to play
Gutthi: Click to play

Ahalya ★★★★½

A short film filled with suspense and seduction, with a twist to mythological tale of Ahalya.

Synopsis: This short suspense film opens with inspector Sen ringing the doorbell of Mr. Sadhu. The door is opened by sensuousAhalya. The visit pertains to investigation of a missing person Arjun. Arjun was seen with Mr. Sadhu before he went missing. Does Sen solve the mystery of missing Arjun?

What works: Ahalya is a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience. Acting by all the actors is very good. The short film excels on direction, sounds, lighting. Radhika Apte looks stunning. I had some challenges with Bengali language but the subtitles are very apt. The editing and the screenplay are flawless and we could not find any scene which felt like excessive or out of place. The whole story runs smooth from one frame to another. The director has managed to weave this tale in a manner which retains sensuality, simplicity and suspense all in one frame.

What is the best: The category where the film stands out is the story. In fact, we have awarded one whole extra star to the review for the story-writing alone! The story has much deeper undertones than what it shows on the surface.

Spoiler Alert: Please read after watching. ShowThe story is actually an alternate rewriting of mythological Ahalya from Ramayana. Ahalya was married to much older renowned saint, Goutam Rishi. She is believed to be the most beautiful dame of the time. Lord Indra of devlok was seduced by the beauty of Ahalya. As the story goes, Indra transfigures into Goutam and involves in sexual intercourse with her. Angered by this, Goutam curses Ahalya to be transformed into stone. This modern day Ahalya shares all the similarities of the older times, but rather than turning into the stone herself for Indra’s fault, transforms ‘Indra’ and other debauchees into stone.

Verdict: A must watch!

AglaPlay Verdict: Must watch
AglaPlay Rating: 4.5/5
Language: Bengali, with English subtitles
Duration: ~13 minutes
Writer: Sujoy Ghosh
Director:  Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Soumitra Chaterjee (Goutam), 
Radhika Apte (Ahalya), 
Tota R Chowdhury (Inspector)&
Ahalya: A Modern Retelling

Glitch ★★★

A ten year old travels though the time to save his parents’ relationship.

Karan is the central character in Glitch. He is a 10 year old boy who accidentally discovers a time-control switch. This time switch can take him across a few hours – not more. The short film shows Karan uses the switch to prevent the possible separation of his parents.

I am going off beat here but the movie reminded me of The Butterfly Effect. In case you had not watched it, try that, it is a good movie to watch. It also reminded me of the fantasy short stories penned by famed director Dr Satyajit Rai. He has written several such short stories. I t would be amazing to see a few of them to be presented in a short film. Bordering on science fiction and sometimes, occult, the stories are just so enjoyable.

Anyways, back to the Glitch that we have here. On the positive side, I praise Shubham for bringing out this experimental work. The story is interesting. well-written. Kabir (Secret Superstar famed child actor) does complete justice toe the role and in fact, he is the one who carries the whole film on his shoulders. You may see the film advertised with Mona Singh’s name but that is largely the marketing part of it. One should watch this movie for the way Kabir carries this whole project through. Highly appreciate Shubham-Kabir duo!

On the not so good part, the viewers may not find the film very engaging or enjoying. But then, experimental pieces like these are not meant to be. And to me, it was a very decent work. Also, in case the time switch explanation is not believable, please read the below.

Spoiler Alert. Best to read after watching. Click to read The whole film can be seen from the view of a child’s imagination.This child has stolen his mom’s ring as a valentine gift to his crush. But he knows he has done wrong and he is worried. Under the shower he thinks of different possibilities and worries if his action will lead to his parent’ separation or worse… He still tries to hold on to the ring to impress the girl (Shruti), but ultimately gives up after thinking though all possibilities.

Overall, worth a watch!

AglaPlay Verdict: Worth a watch
AglaPlay Rating: 3.0/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: ~14 minutes
Writer: Shubham Yogi
Director:  Shubham Yogi
Cast: Kabir Sajid Shaikh (Karan),
Mona Singh (Priya / Karan's mom),
Faisal Rashid (Ajit / Karan's dad),
Vinita Joshi (Reena / House help) &
Glitch: Time travel story of a ten year old

The Guest ★★★

A thriller that tells story of a young man asking help from an old lady on a dark lonely night…

The protagonist’s car breaks down in midst of the mountains. The poor guy walks miles to find a town or a mechanic but to no avail. Finally he knocks at a house and the landlady answers.

The camera work is good. Note that I can be biased here. I always like seeing the mountains. I am an avid trekker (till before Covid-19 hit). Valleys with small village houses and greenery around soothes me. It is something with the greenery of the plants, or the vastness of open space, and the smell of fresh air of the mountains or even hills which have this magical effect on me. Many of us, including me have to stay in the cities for earning our bread, but it is always like mountains calling out to me. Here, I will also praise the genuineness in simplicity of the portrayal of a small town home with an outhouse changed to godown – the single flickering bulb, the simple bed with mattress. The simplicity is the beauty of camerawork here.

To really enjoy the short film to its fullest, I will request you to put your feet in the protagonist’s shoes. Imagine that your car has broken down and you are stuck in the situation with no shops or person around. What will you do? How will you manage? The climax will hit you and it will hit you hard if you follow this small advice of ours!

Negative is that there is nothing in the movie. The landlady herself appears after more than half of the movie is passed. The movie could have been half its size, may be, and still would have delivered similar impact.

However, it is a must watch for the end. As you know from above, you can skip first half of the movie without any impact on your experience!

AglaPlay Verdict: A must watch for its end
AglaPlay Rating: 3.0/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: ~8 minutes
Writer:  Parveez Sheikh 
Director: Ayappa K. M.
Cast: Avinash Tiwari (Stranger),
Davinder Madan (Landlady) & 
The Guest: Mediocre short with great ending

Half Full ★★★½

Abhay is anxiously waiting for something when a stranger knocks at his door on a rainy night.

The short film starts with a stranger knocking on protagonist (Abhay) door. The stranger’s car has broken down amidst the heavy rains. Abhay, meanwhile, was desperately waiting for something to happen and was repeatedly looking at the wall clock before this stranger comes. The two end up discussing the things which are bothering Abhay. The short ends has a shocking revelation about the stranger.

First of all, the acting is very good. Especially from Vikrant Massey (Chhapak fame). He has performed extremely well, and holds his own in presence of the legend Naseerudin Shah.

Then comes the direction. The audience connect to Abhay and his feelings, without any specifics provided at all. We personally like the short films which talk of hardships and challenges that people face everyday. Abhay is also stuck, like so many of us. His so few words reflect the feelings of so many. Director Karan has taken few artistic liberties to dramatize the situation to the worst, but if you will just pause and see through, you will see conundrums, the hopes and the challenges you and I face everyday. Anyways, let’s move on to the negatives.

First on the negative is that the short is available on Zee5 only. That means paid subscriptions for those who do not have it. We will come with a short article later on availing best offers to get Zee5, but that is for later. The second minor short coming of the movie is the end which may not be liked or accepted by everyone.

Overall, it is a good one and we at Aglaplay recommend a watch!

AglaPlay Verdict: Worth a watch
AglaPlay Rating: 3.5/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: ~10 minutes
Writer:  Karan Rawal 
Director: Karan Rawal
Cast: Vikrant Massey (Abhay), 
Naseeruddin Shah (Stranger)