Is a picture really worth a thousand words? It sure is and Neeraj Ghaywan proves it with Independence, a one minute film about a poor street girl who struggles to sell. India earned independence 6 decades ago but people didn’t get freedom. There are people who haven’t gotten freedom from hunger, poverty, illiteracy or lack of opportunity and the film drives home this point with great sensitivity. What’s truly commendable is that in one minute, Neeraj uses many subtle references to show the plight of the little girl. A reflection of a beggar kid in the girl’s eyes; the girl’s refusal to alms; the school named ‘Free Bird High School’ where girls are happily playing; all these references beautifully depict the state of the girls mind.
The little girl (meenakshi) gives a great performance and uses her eyes to convey a lot of emotions, which Neeraj captures cleverly using close-ups. What enhances the mood even further is the background score which complements the film and the subject. And the director saves the best for last, the rain which puts a smile on the girls face and gives her the liberation that she seeks, also washes away the saffron from the flag almost making you feel that the flag is bleeding. The bleeding flag is the last reference and it has a lasting impression on the viewer because it further reinstates the fact that, freedom is a privilege.