Half Cooked (2021)
Directed by Shahrukh Naveed
Starring: Humaima Malik, Meekal Zulfiqar
Relationships — especially the broken, flawed ones, remain a recurring theme in shorts coming out of Pakistan. Miscommunication is of course one important element that adversely affects the bond between two individuals. In ‘Half Cooked,’ director Shahrukh Naveed explores the dynamic between a married couple, played by Humaima Malik and Meekal Zulfiqar, as the two seem to be losing their connection in the ever after. Malik’s character decides to play a game with her husband where she asks four different questions on four different days to resolve the communication dilemma. The man of the house is clearly not too excited at this proposition and offers little to assuage the lingering concerns his wife seems to be presenting via her question and answer game. He seems to be engulfed by his work routine and expects her wife to do the same when she is offered a job. Do the two succeed in getting to the heart of the problem and overcoming the tedium of marital monotony?
Humaima Malik presents a good account of herself and excels here at emoting the bittersweet vibrance of her intelligent character. Her act is quite nicely complemented by Meekal Zulfiqar, playing the not-so-expressive husband who might have a lot on his mind. Director Shahrukh Naveed frames his shots well and uses the lighting and photography artfully to enhance the impact of the upheavals and reconnections his characters go through. This is one short that has the potential to translate well to a longer telefilm or perhaps even a television play.
Dafaa Ho Jaao Tum (2021)
Directed by Faseeh Bari Khan
Starring: Resham, Abdullah Ejaz
Faseeh Bari’s ‘Dafaa Ho Jaao Tum’ explores the story of a couple that breaks up and reconnects. The characters here are dramatically different from the more composed ones in ‘Half Cooked’ and also happen to encounter one another in less pleasant circumstances. Resham and Abdullah Ejaz essay two very tempestuous people in this nearly 25 minutes long short, who seem to have parted with much bitterness, conflict and pain. While there is no love lost at Resham’s end, Abdullah Ejaz decides to give the broken-up romance one more go after things don’t work out with his new woman in his life. Forcing his way into his former flame’s house, he displays his darker shades as it becomes clear that Resham, for whom the split was a heartbreaking one, is not prepared to take him back in. Ejaz proceeds to try all the ruses and tricks to get her back — which unfortunately also includes blackmail.
Faseeh Bari has written numerous gripping scripts, and the writing here is rather effective in bringing out the turmoil and underlying conflict between its two principal characters. As a director, he employs the rendition of ‘Woh jo hum mein tum mein’ quite effectively to enhance the melancholy of the circumstances. The performances, on the other hand, seem to be a little rough on the edges. A bit of subtlety (especially at Resham’s end) could have enhanced the impact of her performance in this short, which still makes for an interesting viewing experience.
Seen the shorts? Let us know what you think in the comments below!