‘Kaande Pohe’ came out on YouTube on this year’s Valentine’s Day. While much of the country’s population is turning towards a regressive school of thought, the art based on a progressive outlook is bound to become ‘trendy’. This short film focuses on one such issue in a light-hearted manner. So it also started making waves on various social media platforms. Directed by Shubham Yogi, the film is made available by Terribly Tiny Tales (TTT).

‘Kaande Pohe’ infuses a long-known tradition in a Maharashtrian (a part of the Indian subcontinent) household with a refreshing lookout.  Unlike most of the Western countries, marriages in India have always been arranged by one’s parents. Even in 2020, a lot of marriages are still based largely on the family’s approval and the state of Maharashtra is no exception. In Maharashtrian families, a semi-formal meeting occurs only to decide whether there is a mutual interest between the families. Funnily, the couple to-be-wedded comes secondary.

In such meetings, Kaande Pohe (a local snack) is served to the other family. Traditionally the family of the boy visits the family of the girl at their home and the karyakram (ceremony) happens in a very patriarchal way. In that sense, the girl is supposed to be good-natured, based on how shy or polite she is. The girl’s character from this short- Manisha, played by Ahsaas Channa, portrays the same persona – something that is ideally expected by a parent. Apparently her patrika (horoscope) matches with the guy’s (Tushar Pandey) which makes them even more excited to get married. And meanwhile, even if their eyes meet for a moment or two, there is no interaction between them to understand another person and to know if they are compatible with one another.

Afterwards, when they are given a ‘chance’ to speak with another, he goes on about how open-minded he is in order for her to open up. There is a spark in between but not completely realized. With most of its conversations before or after this bit, “Kaande Pohe” tries to find ways to shift the gender dynamic. It speaks about the idea of freedom in today’s age of social media and what it would mean on a personal level, without being judgemental.

With the current youth in India, it is not as much about one’s occupation but what one believes in – and how open is for the partner’s decisions. It is not about looking if their stars perfectly match, but if they genuinely want to be a part of each other’s lives.  “Kaande Pohe” addresses the same and gives a liberating portrait of a female who will not be lenient as expected by a girl in the society that she is a part of. While a lot of decisions are still based on how it is perceived by the people, this short-film uses the ‘society’ in an inventive way.

While the concept is noble and its execution is impressive, Shubham Yogi seems to use the same small-town wagon that several Bollywood films are trying to bring. It feels forced and occasionally inauthentic. Since most of the crew seems foreign to the particular language (Marathi), it fails to bring the ethos even if the efforts are there.

And despite this, the short-film succeeds in bringing a certain charm due to the impressive performances by Ahsaas Channa and Tushar Pandey. As a result, the savory platter that it presents becomes much more endearing.