Half Full (a short film on Zee5)
Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Vikrant Massey
Directed by Karan Rawal
Rating: *** ½
You really can’t say no to a film, no matter how short, when it features the mighty Naseeruddin Shah as one of the only two characters in a lighthearted meditation on life and death. Naseer arrives later, in a BMW, if you will. Or, so we are told since an actual BMW would be unaffordable to a short film where the costliest prop is a bowl of gajar ka halva.
We are first introduced to Vikrant Massey, a man who has just finished writing his suicide note and is waiting for the stroke of midnight to say goodbye to his life.
This is where Naseer steps into the picture. Just one look at the wizened face filled with wondrous wisdom that comes only to those who know which experiences of life to take forward makes our day.
Massey plays well against Naseer. Even though their interaction lasts for only 12 minutes, what the two actors succeed in conveying about the value of life is timeless. There is a quality of comforting familiarity in the way these two actors convey profound thoughts on mortality through a seemingly ordinary conversation.
And why does Massey’s unnamed character want to die? Because every day he wakes up feeling useless. Not a valid reason to die, not in a country where thousands are rendered homeless and jobless.
There is a lot to be read between the lines in Half Full. Naseer reminds us of how much his character wants to say without actually stating it. There is a suggestion at the end of this brief but vivid film that Massey could actually be portraying the younger version of Naseer. I don’t know if I’m willing to buy that. There can never be another Naseeruddin Shah. Half Full reminds us of his unique ability to create real people in no time at all. And with little provocation.
Vikrant Masey can’t do what Naseer can. Not yet anyway.