An aspiring filmmaker struggles with completing her film, family life, and debt in Hassan Raza’s short film Zaara.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty regarding Hassan Raza’s intriguing short film, can we just start by saying that many a filmmaker, including those just starting out and those who have found success, will be able to relate to the content on show here. And it’s not just filmmakers, it is those people who have dreams of succeeding in any industry that is filled with people clambering for success, with only a few making it to the summit. When you aim for something big, you will find many naysayers along the way, those that just don’t understand what you are trying to achieve, nor do they believe you will reach your goals.
Zaara (Sonera Angel) is a young woman who lives and breathes film. Her shelves are filled with DVDs and books on directing and cinematography. Her bedroom walls are lined with noted paper relating to the locations, cast, and shots for her latest project. Yet, as seen through a final demand letter, she is in debt. The date for paying the £805 owed has passed.
Placing the debt letter aside, Zaara collects some of her film gear, including a DSLR camera, SD cards, and a tripod and prepares to leave for a day of pickups; the final day of a long shoot. She soon runs into her father Aslam (Brij Mohan Thathal) and an argument ensues. Aslam has had enough of Zaara’s pursuit of becoming a film director and wants her to get a normal job to help with the bills. After all, debt collectors have already been to the house in the past (which her mother paid) and Zaara is still making repayments on that.
A simple two-hander scene is being shot by Zaara with two local actors in the garden of a local cafe, and she is happy with the shoot. Unbeknown to her though, two debt collectors, the older of which is a deceiving racist (James Graeme), have made their way to her home, and they won’t leave unless they get either the money owed or goods that are worth the same sum. This leaves Aslam in an awful position; he is scared as he doesn’t have the money himself and he is unaware that the debt collectors are actually breaking the law by forcing themselves into the house without a legal warrant.
Filmed in sumptuous black and white, the short film is gorgeous to look at, and Hassan Raza does make some really interesting choices when it comes to picking his shots and his use of sound, as witnessed in a rather simple tracking shot of Aslam as he sits silently and still on the sofa, listening to the echoey voices of the debt collectors as they move around elsewhere in the house.
The performances are all excellent in Zaara, but especially that of Brij Mohan Thathal, who tragically passed away after completing his work on the film. He brings a multi-layered performance to the screen and certainly raises the short by many levels. Whilst watching the film, I was thinking that I’d like to see more films starring the actor, unfortunately, that will now be impossible. I’m sure his friends and family will be proud of this performance.
Zaara is an excellent short film that will keep you thinking long after the end credits have rolled, we will certainly be keeping an eye out for all those involved in creating it.