Pragyesh Singh doesn’t shy away from exploring the complexities of personalities within his films
Known for creating many thought-provoking short films, Pragyesh Singh added ‘Chhoti Si Guzaarish’ to his list of directorials in 2017. Starring Shishir Sharma, Smita Jaykar and the late Inder Kumar, this was Singh’s fifth short film that would tug at the heartstrings of his audiences.
When Shishir (Sharma) struggles to be the primary carer for his wife Sugna, he turns to his son Param. Living in America however, Param is cold, disconnected and unphased by his parent’s situation, where he feels his life is too busy to be there for his mother. Juggling between caring for his wife and attempting to make his son understand his struggles, Shishir finds he has to make some tough decisions that shake his world to the core.
There is no doubt the casting for this project is brilliant. Sharma’s performance as a helpless husband is the one that the audience feel for completely. Stuck at a crossroads, viewers can only wonder what they would do if they were in his situation. Playing his character as a sombre husband and father only adds to the film tragedy. Jaykar is no stranger to mothering roles, however here she plays the helpless wife who is at the complete mercy of her husband. By completely surrendering to her character, only makes the viewer want her to be cured. Understanding the pressures her husband is under, Jaykar is able to get the audiences to understand her character completely, where though her feelings are complex, they have no choice but to sympathise and almost cry for her. Kumar as Param was nothing short of perfection. Being his last film before his passing, only makes his performance bittersweet. Though his screen time is shorter than his co-stars, it’s Kumar who the viewers can’t get out of their minds, where his character is so unlikable, viewers can only hold on to the hope that he changes his ways before it’s too late.
Singh doesn’t shy away from exploring the complexities of personalities within his films, and here is one project that is unapologetically uncomfortable and at times hard to watch. Making his actors showcase complete vulnerability, gives them all the space to display their talent as brilliant actors. Singh is subtle with his direction, where he ensures not to give everything away at once and is sensitive to what his characters are going through. Setting a tone for many of his future projects, Singh is not afraid to show hard truths about the situations many people face in the real world. Not using his platform for escapism but rather for subtle statements, he forces his viewers to think and reflect upon their own actions, especially when it comes to the treatment of their parents. The extreme measures of these characters however, make the viewer hard to understand why they carry them out in those ways.
With young people taking on more opportunities to further their careers, ‘Chhoti Si Guzaarish’ attempts to put the way parents are often left behind where their children have moved on, in a much more extreme way. Though the storyline is something that does in fact ring true to some, it is something that is difficult to come to terms with for many others, who are still very much connected to their families. For anyone looking for a happy ending, may want to give this one a miss. The film goes from sad to complete meltdown, which also makes the viewer disconnect from the film as a whole. Though a difficult storyline, Singh’s realism – despite the feelings of his viewers – is one which will make everyone think twice in the way they show up for their loved ones, and makes a huge impact in having his viewers sit in the unease of what the story reflects.