Directed by: #SiddharthChauhan
It is heartbreaking to think that in some places the right to love is still an issue. In short film Pashi we follow the coming-of-age story of Ashish (Chetan Kanwar) who is starting to realise he has feelings towards another man (John Negi).
The directing in this film is one of its greatest accomplishments – Siddharth Chauhan takes his time to explore the atmosphere and make it almost tangible. The landscapes and the animals in the background mix so well we almost feel the breeze coming from the land.
Ashish is portrayed as a sensitive and quiet school-going teenager. He walks and talks as if he is pain, he doesn’t stand straight almost as if he knows there’s something inside of him that is lessening him. He spends his time roaming through the village, where he lives with his mother and grandparents. His desire towards the young man, who is staying at his family’s inn, flourishes to an overpowering feeling. We become aware of his lust through the lingering stares that weakens him and through the erotic dream sequences. However, in the dream sequences, the young man is always alone or with an animal, but never with Ashish – a form of his subconscious to tell him that he is allowed to long for someone but he is prohibited of becoming a part of his dream. Therefore, we cannot help to feel that the film is building up to an inevitable tragic end.
Chetan Kanwar’s acting in this film is phenomenal. He is able to convey sadness and lust at the same time. With his desire which is both forbidden and overpowering, we are unsure of whether he is weak because he cannot fight with his desires any longer or because he has completely given himself up to his cravings.
The young man teaches Ashish about pashi – the art of trapping birds. Pashi works as a metaphor for Ashish’s desires – he has to decide to either trap his feelings or let them go and trap something else. Now with a weapon to make his desires come true, Ashish is unable to stop himself from creating a scenario to which we will be led.
When short film Pashi reaches its climax, Ashish has captured the man he longs after and in realising he is not strong enough to keep him there, he falls to his feet. The scene is heartbreaking. Ashish’s passion is too strong for him to contain, but he also knows he won’t be able to make it real – his dreams have told him so. His movements show us he knows he has already lost but he is powerless when it comes to his hunger.
Although the protagonist is depicted as a fragile and innocent youth who is becoming aware of his sexuality, he slowly becomes a monster, giving up to his instincts he turns into an animal – thus, he is finally allowed to stand next to the man he lusts over in his dreams.