achievement The poignancy of Sharath Jothi's short film The Messiah has helped it win recognition at international fests

The fact that director Shankar has taken Sharath Jothi on board as his assistant says enough about the young man's potential. The short filmmaker had sent five of his works to Shankar, after which the director sent for him. The Messiah, Sharath's recent short, has won an award for child actor Desappan at the Norway Tamil Film Festival, 2012, and was also screened at the short film corner of Festival De Cannes 2012. This week a show was held at the theatre in AVM Studios. The Messiah is journalist Praveen Kumar's first production, and he's thrilled that his film is going places, literally.

You could find the film too raw — Sharath doesn't try to soft pedal grim situations that stare you in the face. At one end of the spectrum is MNC employee Suresh, whose ego doesn't allow him to take even minor hurdles in his stride and at the other is Desappan, who, despite his harrowing past finds reasons to smile. The two form the pivots of The Messiah. Through a poignant drama, Sharath Jothi defines the maturity of the boy and the intemperate nature of the man, who come face to face one night.

It is nearing midnight and Suresh craves for a drink. He has just learnt that his application for visa has been rejected while that of his colleague is through. Liquor shops have downed the shutters but he manages to find one in a dark, dingy lane. After a peg or two he needs someone to share his woes with, but except for the small boy, Desappan, who's cleaning up the bar, and a fellow lying on the floor drunk, there's nobody. So he begins talking to Desappan. Though the boy has already seen much in life, he has no expectations, and hence no disappointments. Soon, on learning about him, Suresh is disconcerted. He returns the next morning to do his mite for the boy. Fate has other plans — Desappan is dragged away to the refugee camp, he had escaped from…

As an actor who is constantly honing his skills in theatre, Girish in the role of Suresh is spontaneous. And an apt foil for him is Desappan, the small boy to whom life has been cruel. “I spotted Girish in Kalaignar TV's ‘Naalaiya Iyakkunar,' the show, which judges short film entries. He impressed me a lot. As for Desappan, I had used him in my earlier short, Puzhudhi Aattam. He lives in very humble surroundings in Royapuram,” says Sharath.

These days short film fests seem to draw more audiences, and young makers see them as a stepping stone to feature films. “Yes, shorts are a portfolio for aspirants like me. Otherwise despite several platforms, they aren't paying propositions,” he says. Sharath's shorts made it till the semi-final round of the ‘Naalaiya Iyakkunar' competition. “If you can help a person, do so at once, otherwise it could be too late. And, while even minor hurdles make the nouveau riche sulk, the poor, despite their woes, are contented, are the points I've touched upon in The Messiah.”

The ‘Naalaiya Iyakkunar' recognition, an award at Norway, the Cannes screening and now a place in Shankar's camp — the short route seems to be working out quite well for Sharath.