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29 mins. Fictional short
This diploma film of Film and Television Institute of India graduate Rajashree, is the story of Rahul (Yashodham Joshi), an angry 15 year old who hasn’t got over his parent’s divorce many years ago and his mother’s remarriage. He folds up like a touch-me-not every time his mother reaches out to him and finds some distraction by helping a widow (Sulabha Deshpande) garden her backyard. He starts off by stealing food from her fridge, but gradually grows to care for her. It’s easy to see why this film, shot in black and white by Ramchandra HM, won the National Award for the best fictional short in 1996: the story is well structured and simply narrated, and, in its own quiet way, addresses issues of family, adolescence and increasingly brittle social relationships. The director withholds judgment and resists the temptation to succumb to the schmaltz factor, which overhangs the sequences between Deshpande and Joshi – how often have you seen a lonely but wise elder encounter a foul-mouthed but soft-hearted youngling? – even though the story strays into predictable territory by the end. Yet, The Rebel remains sweetly sentimental, made even more endearing by the performances of the seasoned Deshpande and the talented Joshi.
– Nandini Ramnath