Some directors can take three hours to say nothing. Others such as Charles Burnett and Satyajit Ray can say something meaningful and even profound in less than twenty minutes. An example is Ray's 12-minute short Two: A Film Fable, a story of two young boys who live close to each other but exist in different worlds. Ray was asked to make a TV short for Esso World Theater in English, but he chose instead to make a silent film that speaks volumes about the reality of class distinctions in India in the 1960s.
In the film, a young boy from a wealthy family (Ravi Kiran), is alone in his house trying to amuse himself with the toys that surrounds him. When he hears a flute playing he goes to the window and sees a small dark Indian boy from a neighboring slum standing in the field adjacent to his back yard. The game they play is known pejoratively as "one-upmanship." When he hears the flute, he joins in with a toy trumpet that drowns out the flute. When the poor boy gets his drum, the rich boy counters with his own tin drum.
When the Indian boy starts to fly his paper kite with a big smile on his face, his combatant friend shoots it down with an air gun and he leaves dejectedly. The rich boy returns to his Westernized wind-up robots and Mickey Mouse hat and thinks he is the winner until he again hears the plaintive sounds of the flute while sitting in his room alone. The look on his face tells us that he knows that he has won the battle but lost the war. The film may be suggestive of the director's attempt to paint a picture of the isolation of Westernized upper-class Indians as contrasted with the freedom of India's common people.
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