Writing & Direction: Disha Noyonika Rindani
Producers: Guneet Monga and Achin Jain
Cast: Pratik Gandhi, Bhamini Oza Gandhi, Chahat Tewani
Platform: Amazon MiniTv (Shopping App)
Do you remember, if you’re a girl, the last time you had a conversation about shopping for innerwear with your dad? Well, if you’re like me, you’re answer would mostly be ‘Are you mad? Why would I have a chat with my dad about shopping for innerwear?’ Here’s where Guneet Monga and Achin Jain backed short film, ‘Shimmy’ steps in and brings to us an awkward yet much needed shopping spree tale of a father, who is struggling in the absence of his wife, and a young daughter, who is coming of age physically and emotionally.
Starring Pratik Gandhi as Amol Parekh and Chahat Tewani as Raima Parekh, Shimmy is a sweet and relatable tale of a father and daughter who are growing up in their own way. The film begins with a peculiar dance step called ‘Shimmy’ being taught to young kids at school and Raima is seen feeling awkward in doing it amid her classmates. As the tale moves on, we see get to know Raima’s awkwardness stemmed from her consciousness about her developing bosoms and the lack of a bra thereof. Due to self-consciousness, she’s willing to cancel her plan to attend a birthday party. It is there where Pratik aka Amol steps in and tries to have the ‘conversation’ with his little girl. What comes next is an awkward yet refreshing innerwear shopping spree that we never thought we’ll get to see on Indian screens.
‘Shimmy’ happens to capture the sense of how in Indian households, a female talking about her issues like buying a bra or discussing periods with a male member is considered to be taboo. The short film, written and directed by Disha Noyonika Rindani, manages to take that subject and place in a setting where a female figure is absent and it is just a father, played by Pratik, and a daughter, essayed by Chahat, who have no choice but to ‘really grow up.’ The fact that the amazing soundtrack ‘Chodo yeh haath mera, Aag Mein Khadi huyi’ playing as the plot moves on tries to capture how all women only wish to feel free at the end of the day. Free to talk about any issues with anyone in the household without any gender specifications to be followed.
Talking about performances, Pratik Gandhi as the orthodox yet willing father is brilliant. He perfectly captures the hesitancy and confusion of a father who has to have the ‘grown up’ talk with his daughter about her physical development with age. At several moments in the film, you will relate to him. Like when he wants to know if the boy his daughter was talking to gave her a love letter or when he gives her the deadline for a birthday party as he doesn’t want to sit with other mothers and wait for her. But, in the end, he ends up turning into a confidante for his daughter and gives her the faith with his actions that she can tell him anything. After Scam 1992, Pratik steps into a much simpler and relatable universe with Shimmy and manages to leave you impressed.
Coming to Chahat Tewani, as the young girl who is seeing her body develop into that of a teenager, she captures the awkwardness and insecurities quite well. Her eyes and the silence speaks more than anything else in scenes where she is just observing other girls in her school or when she can’t do the ‘Shimmy’ step with her classmates. She also displays a bit of a feisty vibe when she blurts out the reality of her father and mother’s broken marriage to a saleswoman casually.
A special mention also needs to be given to Bhamini Oza Gandhi who is seen as Sheetal, the innerwear saleswoman who helps Raima in selecting the right first bra for her. Bhamini, as the enthusiastic yet empathetic saleswoman, is refreshing to watch. Her sweet interaction with a father, who is shopping innerwear with his daughter for the first time, is captivating and it leaves a lasting impact till the end.
The strength of ‘Shimmy’ is the writing by Disha. Not for a second, the main topic of the film is sidelined. It is always kept front and centre and Pratik and Chahat’s story is built around it. The dialogues and screenplay by Jai Mehta is smooth and slowly builds up for the sweet ending. Close up camera shots of Pratik and Chahat by the cinematographer Jali Cowasji helps us to feel the emotions of the characters. The fact that the film is edited well by Viraj Goradia and is crisp, adds to the highlights of Shimmy. Producers Guneet Monga, who won the Academy Award for her film Period: End of Sentence in 2019, and Achin Jain through Sikhya films have surely picked the right tale to be backed in the Indian setting.
For us, what stood out was how Pratik Gandhi and Chahat’s father-daughter tale is kept at the heart of this endearing and relatable tale about the taboo around shopping of lingerie. With it, director Disha manages to target the larger subject of the taboo around discussion of women’s issues with male members in an Indian family setting.