Makhmal – A Musically Cohesive Ode To A Father’s Love
Before cinema became a custodian of business, production values and money; it was, but, a storyteller’s device, a narrator’s visual aid, a musician’s pictorial canvas and a filmmaker’s fictive portrait. It was a blank space, where elements fused together to give birth to a coherent storyline; each, fulfilling its role in abetting the structure. And all it takes is one story to bring back the emphasis on content and narration. Faraz Ali’s short film, Makhmal, is a lyrical ballad to the very idea of, not just a father-daughter relationship, but to the limerick of cinema, itself.
In the recent past, one of the more aiding factors for a movie’s visual structure, has been the art production. The addition of objects and elements that would infuse the scene with a certain sense of tonality and mood. Very rarely, have any of these elements done more than just that, perhaps like pushing the story forward itself. The emphasis on the beauty has almost always trumped the conceptual understanding of the object’s inclusion, itself. Filmmaker Faraz Ali’s latest work of love, Makhmal, realizes a story that’s enlivened with the coming together of several successful elements, a taut storyline, wonderful portrayals, narratively aiding music and a backdrop that merges into the drama with seamless approval.
At its very heart, Makhmal is a story about the velveteen relationship between a father, played by Jackie Shroff, and a daughter, her gut-wrenching absence causing in him a pain so dear, that he refuses any restraint that would stop him from meeting her; whether it be his estranged wife, his unfinished work, the law, or his presence itself, instead finding a tragically endearing manner to spend time with her. Faraz, himself, credits realizing this idea to a significant real life moment; a scene that he fittingly captured 5 years ago and fit into the end credits of Makhmal, of which he says, “Not too many people see the end credits. But when you make a folder, and put all the elements into it, this movie, Makhmal, is like a folder to me. So, I had to make the footage part of the film, which I happened to witness while shooting Mehrooni. I was shooting, when I turned around and saw a father and daughter interacting, where the father happened to meet his daughter against the will of her mother. I realised that it wasn’t such a usual conversation, but I could see how much effort the father was making, as he found a way to get her out of her school just to be able to see her. It really moved me.”
It isn’t just the emotional portrayal of such a strained relationship that drives the film, but how the story symbolises the fusion of every single molecule, to portray a story as such. Often, elements in a movie act as distractions, even though not intended to be such. The music feels out of place, the backdrop seems like a histrionic, even a scene can feel forced or unnecessary. In his seventeen-minute venture, Faraz manages a wonderful coagulative synthesis that make way for Makhmal’s brilliance. Be it the 5 minute title song, a wonderful composition, written by Faraz, composed by Sagar Kapoor and rendered fittingly by Shafqat Amanat Ali, helps embody the father’s expression and his desperation that leads him to his nature. Not very often do you see music so ably convey a character’s transition.
“Sound is an incredibly important part of the text. So many filmmakers chose to make movies without any songs, and I completely get it. Sometimes, films do not require songs. But I felt for my film, which is poetic in nature, I wanted people to experience it through the words of a song. In a seventeen minute film, there is a five and half minute song, and I got Shafqat Amanat Ali, which we recorded over Skype. There is no breather between the story. If you miss the song, you miss the essence of the story. I wanted to organically implement it as part of the movie,” adds Faraz.
Indeed, the same can be said about almost every element that fits the movie like a perfectly knitted glove. Whether it be the cloth of velvet that the daughter finds comfort in at the beginning, only to return to soothe her long after; or the car keys quickly shoved in the pocket, making way for a painfully beautiful realisation; whether it was the commentary on the radio during the opening credits that help establish a character; or even the creeks of a ceiling fan, reflective of the father’s inner turmoil. They’re all poetically soldered to make way for a screenplay that is at its very best, touching and genius.
Released over YouTube, Makhmal is a testament to the age ol’ notion – ‘the story truly, is king’. And whether short film, or not, if a story is not convincing enough, very few added touches help leave a work of cinematic venture evergreen. Makhmal, in that space, is truly one for our times. Watch it, not just for the compassionate story, but for the tenacious of a truly evergreen idea.
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