Disguise (short film) with a running time of 17-minutes, breaks into the biggest hoax of our times, which is known as “cultural diversity.” It would have been better suited if we would have called it “cultural imposition” rather than diversity. Diversity in itself sounds positive. It stands for acceptance and tolerance. It talks about being unconventional and liberal. It is about never compromising but still having respect for the views of others even if it doesn’t run parallel to your own. It’s not only about understanding one’s plight but keeping yourself in their shoes and then taking a moment to think. It is about the realization that it can happen with you too. Globalization is of no use if we expand only our economy but let our prudence succumb under intolerance. Until the essence of global citizenship is understood and we do not differentiate human species on man-made barriers, we would keep treading on a path which has the word “regressive” on it, in bold and capital letters.
Disguise (short film) is directed by Sandeep A. Varma. It has been written and produced by Riya Mukerjee. Though the film is set in London, it talks about a phenomenon that is omnipresent in each and every corner of the world.
It is a story about any girl or guy, who isn’t necessarily orthodox but takes the bait of cultural diversity and agrees to uphold their culture in a way that it becomes their identity.
Rabia, a girl living in London and having normal aspirations, is seen with disgust and sometimes loathed too, due to her wearing a burqa. People know her by that. Some of them haven’t even seen her face but recognise her by her attire. The burqa is her identity. It is not just about her religion. Maybe she doesn’t give two cents about religion. Maybe she doesn’t even go to a mosque or abides by the teachings of Islam. But it is about what she is. And also about not pretending in front of others or imposing on oneself what others think is appropriate.
She lives with her boyfriend, Zed Josef, who often tells her to “burn that hideous thing.” He doesn’t understand why she has to be so rigid. But the fact is she is just wearing a piece of clothing that is a part of her culture and has nothing to do with inflexibility. It is the perspective of the society might make it look rigid.
Things change as one day she decides to go out of the house without wearing the burqa. She understands how it has become an intrinsic and inseparable part of her personality.
The director had a very clear perception that his film is not going to be about Islamophobia. Disguise talks about things much deeper than that. It explores the identity of a female living in an alien land. Alien in a way, that the society around her, does not resonate with her values and traditions, which she dearly wants to uphold.
The film talks about generalization and the brunt of which a normal individual has to bear. We never realize that we too can be in the same position. We too could bear the brunt of such discrimination.
Disguise is partly crowdfunded. To an interview given to Times of India, Sandeep A. Varma and Riya Mukherjee talk about the difficulties of making a film without a star and how funding becomes an extremely exhausting and implausible prospect. They talk about the perception of a “Bollywood film” in the European nations and how they tried to change that to some extent by collaborating with people and assuring them that it is not always the case.
The filmmaker is recalcitrant to the norms set by the Hindi Film industry, in order to make a profitable film. And one has to if they have to present an unvaried version of how they perceive the world. Disguise (short film) makes use of some poetic cinematography by Ezequiel Romero to convey a simple message that “you be you and let me be me.“
This short film is worth a watch as it presents a refreshing and bold take on things.
Disguise (short film) is streaming on Disney+Hotstar.
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