Around two years back, a video featuring Sanjeev Shrivastava, a professor from Bhabha University in Bhopal, went viral. in the video, Professor Shrivastava was seen dancing to a popular Bollywood song at a family wedding. Professor’s enthusiasm and the gleeful abandon with which he danced caught the attention of netizens. Soon enough, he created his own YouTube channel and started uploading videos of him dancing to several Hindi film songs in his impeccable style. The first video of him that went viral featured him dancing to the song “Aapke Aa Jaane Se” from the 1987 Bollywood film ‘Khudgarz’. The title of the song now serves as the title of a short film that has been loosely inspired from the professor’s journey from being a ‘common man’ to being an internet sensation.
In the film, the protagonist is not a professor in a reputed university but a man who works as a salesman in a saaree shop. In the first five minutes, one gets a good glimpse of the simple, middle-class life Rammo Babu (Manu Rishi Chadha) and his family leads. They do not have much but are content with what they have at their disposal. The two children have been raised well and the girl is expected to top the class in her board exams. The conversation that takes place between the family members at their small dining table brings a smile on your lips. You realize the children are a little embarrassed at their father dropping them off to a school on his old scooter. You realize it is an expensive school when you see other parents arriving with their children in high-end cars. Despite limited means, Rammo Babu is doing the best he can do for his family. He is a hard-working employee who believes in being honest and serving his customers well. When you see him dancing without a care at the family wedding, you feel here is a man who has lived all his life fulfilling his family’s dreams and there are many of his dreams which got sacrificed in the process.
The short film is filled with warm moments which are peppered with humour that is derived from the situations which a middle class man or his family goes through in a regular day. The dialogues are very well-written and make you chuckle at multiple points in the narrative. Watch out for the scene where Rammo Babu is having a regular adda with his friends and they share a bunch of news items they have received via WhatsApp forwards with a lot of zeal. The film benefits hugely from the performances delivered by each and every member of the cast. Even the ones who have just a scene or two have put their best foot forward and do not falter with things like getting the diction right. The film rests on Manu Rishi Chadha’s shoulder and he infuses every scene he is in with a lot of warmth and ‘niceness’ which, in turn, makes you relate to the character instantly.
Shiladitya Bora, who has backed some of the most important feature films made in the country in the last couple of years, makes an extremely confident debut as a director. He has represented/recreated the Ghaziabad milieu very well and every frame of the film screams authenticity. He brings alive the taut screenplay (Kashyap Kapoor and Raghav Raj Kakker) onto the screen very well as a director. He manages to maintains a very fine balance between humour and light-hearted drama. The ending feels slightly abrupt and one does feel that there was a possibility to show the audience a few more glimpses of Rammo Babu’s life but perhaps, there is a sequel (a series maybe) in the pipeline.
‘Aapke Aa Jaane Se’ has made the rounds of several prestigious film festivals across the globe and is now streaming at the South Asian Short Film Festival till Sunday. It is a sweet, heart-warming that you must make time for this weekend.