short film

Watch: ‘ShutUp’ has a novel solution to the attacks on free speech

Ashutosh Pathak’s short film looks at the attacks on the freedom of expression through the eyes of a reluctant protester.

How do you protest when no one listens to you? That’s the central question of the 19-minute short film ShutUp directed by Ashutosh Pathak and released by Sikhya Entertainment on its YouTube channel.

The fires of protest burn within 20-something Arjun (Arjun Radhakrishnan) but few are willing to buy his outrage. His partner Samiya (Anuritta K Jha) thinks it’s only an excuse to miss an appointment with her parents. His chest-thumping brother-in-law (Kartik Krishnan) thinks it’s teenage angst. And the fact of the matter is that Arjun isn’t sure what he’s talking about either.

He knows that Dub Sharma’s mashup of Kanhaiya Kumar’s Azadi slogans fires him up. He knows that “fat” comedians getting beaten up for making jokes is wrong, and that students should be able to say whatever they feel like, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. Paralysed by fear and doubts over the futility of protest, Arjun dithers over attending a rally to protest the sustained attacks on the freedom of expression.

One of the best moments takes place inside an autorickshaw. Shameen (Aakash Prabhakar), a “part Muslim” who is frustrated by the constant feeling of not belonging, loudly yells “Beef” as a form of protest. Shameen used to carry pepper spray to protect himself from physical attacks, but has now shifted to chilli powder in case the police get suspicious about a Muslim with a weapon. The acting is stilted at times, but the strong writing drives the momentum.

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Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

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It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.