‘Ahalya’ and ‘Alma’ – Drive the Message Beautifully

Sujoy Ghosh's short film Ahalya

It is really interesting to find two short films so similar and good in concept and content, yet different from each other. I’m here talking about recently released Sujoy Ghosh’s short film Ahalya and the 2009-released critically acclaimed creepy animated film “Alma”. The first one has also been well received by netizens ever since its release on YouTube.

Indian director Ghosh who came to fame for his last directed suspense-thriller Kahaani has yet again proved his mettle with this 14-minute Bengali language short film Ahalya. All of us in India who are at least aware of Hindu mythology can very well link this film with the character in the ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayan.

Watch the short film Ahalya

So, let’s first talk about mythological characters. Ahalya was the most beautiful woman created by Lord Brahma. She was, in fact, the wife of a sage named Gautama Maharishi. Once lured by her beauty, God Indra comes in the disguise as her husband and seduces her. Learning his wife’s adulterous nature, the sage cursed both and turned Ahalya into stone. The story goes like this.

In this short film as well, the director has kept the mythical names of those three characters but with a little twist to the story. Ghosh tries to make a statement by turning someone else into stone.

Now, let’s watch “Alma”, and figure out how it’s similar to Ahalya and why I still believe that the similarity is mere coincidence.

Spanish animator Rodrigo Blaas, who is also involved in a number of Pixar projects, directs this 5-minute short film with no dialogue. This film is about a young girl named Alma who whilst walking along the street on a snowy winter day spots a doll in a shop window who appears to be look-a-like of herself. Out of curiosity, she then enters the shop but only finds several toys inside the shop. As she tries to reach the doll that first caught her attention, she finds herself as a part of others resulting in her curiosity and greed.

Both films are amazing in conceptualization and presentation. While one cannot refute that Ahalya is inspired by Hindu mythology, it’s safe to say that “Alma” is original in every respect. At least, I have not seen any such other film. Nevertheless, both very successfully drive the proverbial lessons such as “curiosity killed the cat” or “be careful what you wish for.”

A full-time movie geek and part time e-learning professional. He loves to read, write and discuss in length about cinema and the art of filmmaking.

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