The short film Mein, Mehmood (I am, Mehmood), directed by Prataya Saha, a Bengaluru-based independent film maker, has been selected for a screening at the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) Toronto on August 15. The film will also travel to the Chicago South Asian Film Festival in the USA.
Prataya says the 11-minute film was shot entirely in Dubai and is a collaboration between Black Book Media, a media house based in UAE and his production house — Red Polka Productions.
“The film talks about immigrant workers who suffer due to their lack of knowledge of English, specially in overseas jobs,” states the 35-year-old filmmaker, who started off as a theatre photographer and also worked in a tech company, before plunging into filmmaking full time.
His work hovers mainly on subjects that affect society. Prataya’s previous films have touched on subjects such as domestic abuse during pregnancy ( Just Another Day) and societal conditioning of women in a patriarchal society.
The film is about immigrants who live abroad and how language acts as a barrier between them and their job/goals, says Prataya. “ Mein, Mehmood tells the story of a 45-year-old man who works hard. The film is inspired by my travels in the Middle East. I met people from Afghanistan, India, Bangaldesh. They would not make eye contact not out of rudeness but out of inhibition for the language barrier. There are 6,500 languages in the world and English is just one of them, yet it creates anxiety in people who are not fluent in speaking it. We must address this issue as a language should primarily be a mode of communication. If a language adds an emotion of superiority or inferiority in a person, then it creates a divide in humanity. That is what the film talks about. ”
Mein Mehmood is Prataya’s 12th short film, following his debut Anna’s Weekend ( 2016), which was also selected for festivals in US and China. Last year, Just Another Day, premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival.
Prataya is also concurrenly working on a Bengali feature film, Shonar Khancha (The Golden Cage), which is set in 1989 about a family deliberating selling their 200-year-old house. The film is in the post-production.