Koimoi Recommends Puffball Studio’s Hand-Animated Short Film Swipe
Koimoi Recommends Arafat Manzhar’s Swipe ( Photo Credit – Still )

Koimoi Recommends Swipe: 2 decades ago, the thought of dystopia consisted of a world full of crime and riots. But switch to some odd twenty years later and add the rise of technology to that and the increasing usage of it too. The trigger lies in the hands of millions who own a phone and imagine if your life is dependent on their ‘swipe’. Sounds bizarre and frightening right? On Koimoi Recommends today, I recommend you the Pakistani short film created for over a year by 20 highly able artist under Puffball Studio’s umbrella. It is an alarm to the dystopia we all are heading towards and what it looks like.

Director: Arafat Mazhar

Language: Hindi

Available On: YouTube

In a dystopian future not to far, an app is built and named iFatwa. It puts the right to decide the fate of anyone who has wronged (blasphemy) in the hands of its users. If a case registered on the app gets 10,000 right swipes, the person will be lynched to death. If swiped left, which mean mercy, he/she will be let free. The person swiping will climb the app’s levels depending on how many time he has swiped right. Interestingly one of the crimes is also not forwarding the religious text told to.

Strolling on YouTube brought me to an animated short film that released in late 2020. Conceptualised by Arafat Mazhar, Swipe is a 14-minute look at a possible future that holds the darkest of the phases for humans. And the demon is being nurtured and hyped by us, technology. We meet a city that is busy discussing a new app in town. A news debate has a cleric and a youngster discussing it. The cleric is against it and says, how can a person clueless about the case decide the fate. The youngster says the cleric is jealous as the app takes his authority away. There is a lot of symbolism. The first 40 seconds have crows hover over Pakistan and eating food like vultures. A quick nod to the situation of not just the country, but almost the world as a whole.

Koimoi Recommends Puffball Studio’s Hand-Animated Short Film Swipe
( Photo Credit – Still )

And that is where Swipe starts building its magic. We suddenly meet a young boy, who wakes up and check iFatwa as the first thing. The app says he needs to kill a few to attain a higher position. Frustration leads to him swiping right (killing) people without looking at the screen. In an instant, he ends up announcing his father as the criminal, and it is the 10,000th click.

Swipe, created by 20 artists over a year, is about this very small but significant message. Trigger in the wrong hands. Through an app, they create a universe; through the kid, they plant an uneducated, undeserving person that has the power to end or save lives. For him, it is only about reaching the top of the game, it doesn’t matter what destruction that comes in handy with.

Koimoi Recommends Puffball Studio’s Hand-Animated Short Film Swipe
( Photo Credit – Still )

The animation in Swipe deserves a special mention. Not just in creating characters but the world. The aforementioned boy, while using the app, is walking towards his school. The lane shows how far from the school he lives and has to cross the different levels of the landscape he lives in. But iFatwa has erased all of that from the minds of the people, the only thing they know is saving and killing people without any knowledge of the case. Watch out for the kids in the final sequence and the monsters the app creates out of them.

What exactly defines blasphemy stays the first mystery. But what you take away from Swipe is subjective. Maybe technology needs to slow down, maybe our usage, perhaps the interference, or there should be a limitation on who has the authority for at least significant decisions. There is also a part which talks about a person’s wrong moves and how it ends up destroying his own home. There will be conversations, but for that, one needs to watch a short film that is alarming and frightening at the same time.

Koimoi Recommends Puffball Studio’s Hand-Animated Short Film Swipe
( Photo Credit – Still )

Wait for the end credits when a real-life video plays out. Where kids are enacting the hanging of Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian lady who was subjected to imprisonment for over a decade due to the allegations of blasphemy against her. Dystopia in the minds of kids is not only sowed with major steps; small ones are enough too. Also, meet the fantastic team behind this brilliant satire in the most creative way. These end credits definitely are my most favourite!

PS: Ahmad Faraz’s Hum Log Mohabbat Walay Hain plays in the background of a crucial scene and it broke my heart completely. It reminds the fast erosion of love, empathy and kindness from our lives.

Watch Swipe here:

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