Short Film Review: ‘Level 13’ (YouTube & Hotstar)

Sahar Junejo


Filmfare Short Film Award 2020 nominee ‘Level 13’ has already earned a few accolades in the festival circuit. Written and directed by Samir Tewari, the short film has now been released digitally for the world to appreciate. And with Annup Sonii and Sandhya Mridul at the helm, the film has a lot to look forward to.

Rohit (Annup Sonii) takes his disinterested wife Priya (Sandhya Mridul) to his Managing Director Akash’s (Rajev Paul) wedding anniversary party. As he enters the celebration to schmooze and impress his new boss, he faces an awkward truth – Akash’s wife Sonal (Swati Semwal) is actually Rohit’s ex-girlfriend who was ghosted by him years ago. So begins an evening of shocking revelations for the two couples.

The story is quite clever, but the finale lacks finesse in the execution. The editing could be tweaked perhaps with more cuts in the conversation. The longer pauses and lingering shots during the conversation make the scene feel choppy yet slow, instead of dramatic. The background music is distracting.  The script could have used another round of rewrites, because as it is, the final twist feels a little forced. Essentially, there is a lot of redundant ‘telling’ of what is already being shown.

It is quite unfortunate since there are some great moments in ‘Level 13’ as well. Mridul and Sonii’s banter is so refreshingly fun. The couple is barely ever romantic, but they radiate so much comfort and familiarity in their interactions. Priya is the most interesting character in the film, and all credit goes to Mridul’s portrayal. Despite being mostly passive in the story, she still feels like a fully realized character through Mridul’s dialogue delivery, small gestures and chemistry with the other characters. Sonii is a close second, particularly when he, filled with nostalgia, guilt and cluelessness, apologizes to Sonal for never returning. If only the film could do their talent justice.

‘Level 13’ is available to stream on YouTube and Hotstar.