Short films on life, death and everything in between

An omnibus of six short films, ‘Shuruaat Ka Twist’, has brought together aspiring and established directors

Neena Gupta and Lalit Behl in a still from ‘Adi Sonal’, directed by Heena D’Souza.

The project by studio-cum-incubator lab HumaraMovie gave new filmmakers a chance to see their films released theatrically and be mentored by biggies like Rajkumar Hirani, Vikramaditya Motwane, Raj Kumar Gupta and Amit V Masurkar. Popular actors such as Chunky Pandey, Neena Gupta, and Delnaz Irani have acted in the films.

Metrolife spoke to the up and coming directors to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes.

 A few things you learnt from your mentors.

Avalokita Dutt: My mentor, Amit Masurkar made me feel responsible for each creative decision I took, even though the project carried his name along with mine. This ability to trust another person without being a control freak was a lesson I needed to learn.

Hanish Kalia: My mentor, Raj Kumar Gupta, taught me patience and the honesty and conviction with which you tell a story. The right way to communicate with your actors and make them understand your vision is also something that I picked up from him.

Sanjiv Kishinchandani: I was mentored by Rajkumar Hirani. He told me that every scene should make you laugh or cry or should have some drama in it; don’t move the camera just because you have a trolley on set; be over-prepared and spend as much time on script and character building as you can.

What are some points that newbie directors should keep in mind?

Heena D’Souza: Don’t get bogged down by technicalities. If you have an interesting story to tell, use any medium you have at your disposal and tell it.

Avalokita Dutt: Taking inspiration from another person’s ideas has become an indispensable part of the film industry. I believe it’s important to let your imagination run wild and use references just to supplement this. Also, trust yourself, make your own mistakes and figure your way out of them.

Hanish Kalia: There are no shortcuts in filmmaking. Invest a lot of your time in reading and writing as it broadens the horizon. Observe and look for interesting stories and characters, and live them over and over again till you get the perfect script. 

Sanjiv Kishinchandani: Keep the atmosphere light on set; don’t scream at anyone. Also, take decisions, even if they go against you.

Gaurav Mehra: Make sure you have good stories to tell. The craft and technicalities can be evolved and upgraded with time but one needs to have stories to tell.

One of the most neglected aspects of direction/filmmaking.

Heena D’Souza: Pre-planning and shot division. I keep hearing directors taking pride in being spontaneous on the set but I feel management is as important as creativity.

Avalokita Dutt: Sound is by far the most neglected aspect of filmmaking. I’ve read that maestros say a film is remade at the edit table; I believe it can be remade and enhanced or even destroyed when one doesn’t pay enough attention to the sound.

Praveen Fernandes: I personally give most attention to the scripting process. Do not get into filming with a half-baked script. No amount of star power, money shots or post-production work can save you.

How was it to work with established actors? 

Heena D’Souza: I worked with Neena Gupta and it was an excellent learning experience. Her seriousness and childlike enthusiasm for her craft despite being a veteran impressed upon me the need to be never complacent in my career.

Praveen Fernandes: Chunky Pandey was that he was hungry for something like this. He was comfortable with a first-time director like me and understood my vision completely. His performance has taken people by surprise.

Tell us about your films.

Heena D’Souza: My film, ‘Adi Sonal’, is a contemporary take of Sindhi folklore narrated during the ritual of Teej; it shows how a  middle-class family tackles everyday crises and their reactions to the abruptness of change.

Avalokita Dutt: I wanted to treat friendship with the importance that a love story gets traditionally. ‘Gutthi’ is about two girls who’re dreamers and how they react when life happens to them.

Hanish Kalia: My film ‘Khauff’ is about fear of death or ‘Thanatophobia’. I thought it would be interesting to weave a story around it and make people aware of this condition and how it can be detrimental to health.

Praveen Fernandes: I have enjoyed the 90s Hindi cinema; I watched actors, directors and technicians reach the peak of their careers but then fade away. I wanted ‘TAP TAP’ to centre on this world of cine technicians who are forgotten once they are past their prime.

Sanjiv Kishinchandani: ‘Bhaskar Calling’ is a story about the encounter between a salesman and an old Parsi man who lives all alone. What unfolds on that day will scare the living daylight of any salesman.

Gaurav Mehra: ‘Guddu’ is a Bollywood-ish story about a bride who runs away from her marriage to meet her soulmate. Anurita Jha, of ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ fame plays the lead.

Two years back, while on a Mumbai local, I saw a picture in some random magazine where the groom’s car is stuck in a pit and the bride is pushing the car from behind. That scene stuck in my head and hence this idea.

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