Don’t give up, say filmmakers from Singapore and Mumbai through their short films on depression and suicide prevention

Sex tape film

Sushant Singh Rajput

Sushant Singh Rajput

The recent spate of suicides in the wake of the pandemic-related lockdowns, especially in the film and entertainment industry highlighted by the alleged suicide of well-known Indian film actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, has stirred many filmmakers.

“The reason I wrote this script is that, before Sushant Singh’s death, there were two other actors who had committed suicide,” says Shipra Arora, writer and producer of the short

BTS still from Sex Tapefilm, Sex Tape. “Sadly, we are in a time where people are feeling alone, out of job, unable to take care of themselves. After Sushant’s death, I couldn’t wait and I knew I had to make something on this subject. The idea was that even if one person gets inspired by this film, I will consider we achieved something. That we were able to help someone.”

Together with her brother, Shivankar Arora, the film’s director, this short was  filmed in 11 hours!
S Arora

Shivankar Arora, the film’s director

“As far as challenges are a concern, due to the lockdown, we couldn’t have a team of people working with us,” says Shipra. “The film was shot in 11 hours with only 4 people on the floor (which was the house of the actress). So, from sound recording to spot boy, The job was done by this small team of 3 people.”

“This lockdown kept us thinking how can we utilise the time creatively and what can be done remotely,” says Gibu George, the director of MND. “The idea of MND was ignited during a phone conversation and we four (actors in the film) liked the concept of making a short film remotely with the concept of four childhood friends trying to connect back during this lockdown to cherish their memories and then unveils the most painful memory of their life.”

After releasing MND on YouTube, Gibu and friends decided to launch the prequel too.

Still from the film, MND“The idea of preqel was always there in the first as the storyline had the scope of making a prequel, we just wanted to make it into 2 shorts due to the length of the film and also want to give a different treatment from part 1,” says Gibu. “I was very clear on the characteristics of Aditya Das and his mental problems. He was basically introvert, weird, kind of psychic and depressed because of obvious reasons. His friends was the lifeline during his younger days but he was late to reach out his friends when he lost control over his life. The second part(Prequel) evolved based on this thought.”

Talking about his motivation behind making this film, Gibu said: “Being a socially active person I myself had to go though a lot difficulties during this lockdown. I was not able to copup the sudden changes in day to day life of being locked inside feeling, battling the stress of working from home without understanding the timelimits, etc which has an impact on my mental well-being , makes me realize the importance of staying connected to your loved ones, spending time with your family or the kind of mental imbalance could affect your well-being and how do you try to overcome such situations. The film was so timely and relevent when the Sushant Singh incident came as a shock to the whole industry, but it was purely conindence as the scripting and shoot was completed by end of May. It was indeed painful to know SSR case while we were in the post production.”

Gibu

Gibu George, director of MND

The filmmakers were quite clear about the messaging of the film – “Never miss an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, you never know there tomorrow may never come” and in the Prequel – Depression is real, but could be hidden behind a smile, Reach out when in need”.

Because of the lockdown regulations and the actors being in different locations, it was not easy to make this film. “The actors, including me are all very close friends and we worked together for few Malayalam theatre plays in Singapore,” says Gibu. “The main challenge we had was during the post-productions, sorting and sending out huge number of rushes, reviewing each and every footages to identify the best one and remotely coordinating with editors on those changes on each drafts were little exhausting but we are glad that we could deliver this completely remotely made 2 films in 2 months of time with a very minimal technical resources and limitations.”

The whole team, it was a satisfying journey. “In fact, a very memorable journey and yeah, these memories will never die!” says Gibu.

CAGED

“Caged was made to bring out awareness about ‘Mental Health’,” says Shalima Motial, who plays the protagonist in this short film.

Cage“Depression is an unspoken, often unfathomable turmoil people experience in their heart & head,” she adds. “It’s a small initiative of Dream Catchers to shed some light on such an important issue which has become a ‘taboo’ to talk about openly. People find it hard to accept that they are going through “Depression”, so asking for help becomes even more difficult.”

Shalima says this short film is her team’s humble initiative to highlight the issue of mental health. The director of the film is her spouse, Himanshu Motial.

The film has the support of Tree of Life as its Mental Health Partner.

While Gibu and team are not full-time filmmakers, Shipra has 15 years of experience in TV and online Industry. After working as a Creative Director for 7 years on Indian TV shows like, ‘Kahin Toh Hoga’, Kasauti Zindagi Ki and many more, she shifted to writing and co-wrote shows like Uttran and Udaan, and then progressed to write Naamkaram, Sanjivani and many more independently.
Her brother Shivankar Arora worked as a cinematographer for 10 years in the TV industry. He also did award-winning films, entitled, “Silent ties” as a cinematographer & “Love Knows No Gender” as a Director.
Wanting to tell the stories that could make a difference, the duo started their own YouTube Channel, ContentkaKeeda. Currently, they both are working together, where Shipra writes and Shivankar  directs. “We fight a lot but it’s all worth it in the end,” says Shipra with a smile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s