Directed by: Shashank S Singh
Written by: Shashank S Singh
Cinematography: Deepak Nambiar
Edited by: Manas Mittal
Starring: Swara Bhasker, Gulshan Devaiah, Swapnil Kotriwar
Streaming on: YouTube (Large Short Films)
Corny title aside, I like the premise for Good Alvida, a short film that brings together two ex-lovers on a shared trip with Uber. In essence, the algorithm forces two people to face the heart of humanity. He is in Mumbai on a business trip, she is on her way to a party. After the initial awkwardness and little talk, he asks her: “Hhow are you? “ When she sees him carrying her favorite sweets, she jokingly accuses him of stalking her. In fact, lurking their own memories of cohesion.
The conversation is well designed – it begins carefully and nostalgically, becomes hot and intense before ending with a wave of emotions. It helps that both actors have so many different movie voices. Close your eyes and you can hear Swara Bhasker and Gulshan Devaiah in a crowd of feelings. As a result, this brief exchange also takes on the rhythm of the relationship in three acts: they seem to fall in love, collide strongly, and separate from the beginning. Most kindred spirits meet for the first time, these two meet for the last time. The writing does a decent job of providing a snapshot – and hinting at the story – of the equation they once shared, without retrospectives. The trip itself doubles as the closure, which most ex-partners don’t have the luxury of getting. This is the situation we all imagine and practice in our heads – a random meeting, covering almost enough time to release and resolve the resentment.
The third person in the car, the driver (Swapnil Kotriwar), is a sweet touch. His personality is the sum of all the passengers he has spent – and, dare I say, he may have made a far more captivating short film. What Good Alvida achieves to the last third, although it remains reasonable and simple, is destroyed by a pensive title track marking the climax. This is a stupid, stupid move. Suddenly the moment turns into a movie, their chat turns into an extraction of experiences, not the experience itself. Here, even the two actors look completely out of place, visibly bad at the abrupt change of treatment. What’s more, flashbacks – of dialogue and footage from just five minutes ago – are inevitably arriving. Ten more minutes and Emraan Hashmi could jump out of the back seat and tell the rest.
In the beginning, when the two begin to accumulate past problems, the woman mentions that she lost her independence while she was with him. Her decisions have never been hers alone, and his influence – from friends to work – casts a shadow over her life. Their compatibility is in question. The spirit of the stage is reminiscent of such a late evening drive from Atul Mongia’s excellent short film, wake up, where the wife regains her individualism in the most painful circumstances possible. And the physicality of Good Alvida – a travel sharing app that brings together two “strangers” in night Mumbai – reminds that of Sumi Mathai Bypass, a charming short film starring Vikrant Masi and Sayani Gupta as accompanying passengers. Both shorts are miles ahead, not so much in terms of performance as tonal consistency.
Mumbai at night is its own existential genre – a space where miracles collide and human heads are given silence to be heard. The empty streets make a city stopped between life and subsistence: an opportunity not only for people but also for stories to make their own destiny. If only the creators of Good Alvida managed to keep Bollywood in their pants, the film could feel more than the narrative equivalent of a doomed night.