In a world that swiftly adapts to the dominance of the English language and constantly races forward, Prataya Saha’s latest short film, “Mein, Mehmood,” encapsulates the haunting repercussions of our collective obsession with English and the challenges faced by immigrants. While the COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone differently, it was a particularly tumultuous time for immigrants, who not only grappled with the dilemma of staying close to family or earning a living but also navigated the intensifying jungle of survival.

Imagine a woman standing motionless on a railway station platform, awaiting a train hurtling toward her at full speed—a stark contrast between uncomfortable immobility and uncontrollable motion. This image mirrors the essence of “Mein, Mehmood.” Simple and deliberate in its pacing, this 11-minute film manages to convey a plethora of emotions and illuminate the real-life struggles experienced by millions worldwide: the struggle to fit in, the agony of separation from loved ones, and the battle to keep pace with a rapidly evolving society.

Ozair Abdul Aleem delivers a remarkable performance as Mehmood, effortlessly portraying the fatigue, helplessness, and solitude of an ordinary man in a world that never ceases its relentless pace. While the film features dialogues in multiple languages, it is Ozair’s expressive face that tells the most compelling story. In an era where English has permeated every stratum of society, “Mein, Mehmood ” spotlights numerous contemporary issues, including the identity crisis, the pressure to conform, and the fundamental need to belong.

The film’s conclusion succinctly encapsulates the plight of immigrants in a single phrase, prompting viewers to reconsider the role of language in our lives. Once again, Prataya weaves a narrative that is authentic, relatable, timely, and concise.

“Mein, Mehmood,” which roughly translates to “I am Mehmood,” narrates the story of an immigrant in Dubai grappling not only with the ravages of the pandemic but also the curse of age and language barriers. This film invites us to reflect on the last time we witnessed someone being judged for not knowing English and places us firmly in the shoes of that individual. Mehmood’s world is crumbling around him, and he resides within a pressure cooker that is ready to explode. In this environment, others continually remind him of his lack of English proficiency, questioning his worthiness. His life is one of duality—outwardly, he portrays an idyllic existence, but in reality, he sleeps in a cramped bunk bed in a dimly lit hostel. Almost everyone betrays him, including his wife, and ultimately, life itself. Ozair Abdul Aleem’s performance is a revelation as he progressively weakens, with life-sapping his vitality. This transformation is palpable in his acting.

Prataya Saha’s courage in concluding “Mein, Mehmood” on a note of despair, rather than hope, underscores the hardships endured due to society’s fixation on a particular language and youth. Cinematographer Abhishek Saravanan skillfully constructs a world that visually appears to be closing in on Mehmood. He gradually catches up with the world that races around him, and when he can’t, he nods off—an image depicted visually. There is just enough light to nurture hope, but never too little to extinguish it entirely.

It is essential to maintain language equality; no language is superior to another. Every language has evolved and grown over many years to reach its present state. Discrimination needs to be removed when it comes to making assumptions about people based on their language skills. I’m sincerely devoted to sharing this message, which is a heartfelt one. Even if we use a different language in place of English, the primary point of the story still applies.

The only minor criticism of the film is that Prataya does not delve deeply into Mehmood’s life back home. The revelation about his wife hinted at but not explored further, deserved to have a more pronounced impact on the climax, providing a more complete character arc. Nevertheless, “Mein, Mehmood” succeeds admirably in achieving its intended purpose and more.

In conclusion, “Mein, Mehmood” is a poignant exploration of the enduring impact of language, identity, and struggle in a world that often neglects those who do not conform to its expectations. It serves as a thought-provoking reminder of the unseen battles faced by immigrants and the complexity of human existence when weighed against societal norms. This short film urges us to question our obsession with language and the toll it takes on those who find themselves on the fringes, silently battling to belong. Do give it a watch!!

Written By : Indori Nerd

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