The short film was released on May 30
Habib and Geeta are best friends. So are their mothers. They live next to each other and have an ostensibly warm, enduring relationship. Their neighborhood is fondly referred to as Mishel Para since Hindu and Muslim families have peacefully co-existed here for decades, uniquely immune to the rising religious tension elsewhere in the country, or so it seems.
As other neighborhoods grapple with violence and Hindu families are evicted from their ancestral homes, the underlying tension of the short film bubbles up to the surface and starts to adversely affect both Habib and Geeta’s families.
Directed and written by Saki Frazana, Chelemanushi (The Gray Line) depicts the possibility of sustainable communal harmony as a bleak prospect and rushes to transform Mishel Para from a sanctuary to a ravaged neighborhood.
The contract that was agreed upon by every member of the community to protect each other and to uphold the principle of religious harmony is quickly torn apart over a seemingly insignificant matter. Mishel Para breaks its own promise and comes crashing down.
Based on a short story by Manik Bandopadhyay, Chelemanushi is a well-acted, sure-handedly made short film. Film Scooter, a platform and creative community for new filmmakers and creative artists, released it on YouTube on Saturday.
One cannot help but wonder as to the heights the film could reach if only it had the confidence to adopt a ‘show, not tell’ approach, and faith in its audience to pick up the clues.
Nevertheless, Chelemanushi remains a worthwhile experiment given the seething religious tension in today’s Indian subcontinent and the destructive consequences of the 1947 partition.