Khwaish’s dream coming true!

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Khwaish, a short film about ‘a man chasing his dreams’, has been nominated for film fests this year across the country. Khwaish has been nominated for Manhattan Short India contest, Navi Mumbai International Film Festival, Slaman Farsi Film Festival, Tehran, Iran, Jagran Film Festival and All Lights India International Film Festival.

Khwaish is set in 2002 when India played against England for the title of the Natwest Trophy and is the story of Karim Khan, a small town guy from a village named Kashti. Karim unlike other small town guys is very different and still hopes of achieving his dreams at any cost. Karim being a big fan of cricket desires to go to Lords to watch the match. ‘Will Karim make it to Lords? Can Karim achieve his goal ever?’, is the rest of the story.

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Strangely similar to the storyline of the short film that shows how destiny plays a role, is the real life story of the writer-director of this short film and how destiny brought him to AISFM and how Khwaish was no more a dream, but a dream fulfilled!

Pushkar Vishwasrao, the man behind it all, the writer and director and MA 2016 student of AISFM, writes about the short film, how it came into existence and how it became his graduation film project. Here it is in his own words!

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“This was not just another short film for me. It was my graduation project and it was also my passport to get into the industry. So I had to think of the story which was very different from what my colleagues were making, so that I could stand out from it. Being from a cricket background there is always a special place for this game. The story of this film revolves around an old man who is a big cricket fan and wants to go to Lords to watch India’s cricket match. This story didn’t strike me overnight.

Frankly speaking this was the dream of my uncle, who is a 70-year-old neighbor and is a big fan of cricket. He always discussed cricket with me because he saw me playing professional cricket since my childhood. So one day when I was thinking about the project and what story I should work on, this story idea came up. This was very close to my heart and I thought of working on this story.  

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Even though I had made short film,s before I was a bit nervous before going for the shoot. This was our Graduation Project and our future depended on this. This film gave me and my team a lot of confidence and it also showed us where we stand after two years of studying filmmaking at Annapurna International School of Film and Media.

We faced a major hiccup when on the first day of the shoot in the early morning at 5:00am we came to know that our actor who was coming from Bombay has been hospitalized due to some medical issue. We had been given only five days for the shoot and the first day was cancelled due to this problem.

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Now we had only four days in hand and we needed an actor who could speak Marathi, as my script was in Marathi. Finally our Acting Faculty Yashraj Jadhav agreed to do it as he is a Maharashtrian, but on one condition that he should be left by 4:00pm as he had acting classes. We agreed to it and started shooting the next day and by God’s grace we completed the shoot in four days time.”

Pushkar had worked as an Assistant Director on ad films in Mumbai and also as a freelance casting director on ad films for a couple of years in the industry. And it was while working with his seniors in college that he was swept away by this art form. Says he, “I too wanted to be a part of this form and tell some stories about human emotions, that people can relate to and empathise with. Hence while chasing my dream, my destiny got me here to AISFM and today I am doing my graduation film which follows the theme of “Chasing Dreams”. Being a student of AISFM I was exposed to how the industry works. We also got an opportunity to meet stalwarts from the film Industry and their inputs have really helped us and are still working as we consider what each person has said and how different their point-of-view is from ours.”  “I’m currently working on a screenplay for a Marathi feature. Let’s hope for the best and I hope it will reach the public very soon,” he signs off.

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Grad Film Fest 2016 photo for keepsake! The crew of Khwaish with Chief Guests for the evening;
(Standing L-R):
Swaroop Naini, Pranav Ramani, Nidhi Doshi, Sudeep Patil, Pushkar Vishwasrao, Rachna Deshpande, Akhil D Manu, Mustafa Yusuf.
(Seated L-R): Dean of AISFM Mr. Bala Raj, famous actor Mr. Sumanth, young star Mr. Akhil Akkineni, famous actress Ms. Lakshmi Manchu, popular story writer Mr. Gopi Mohan and well-known director Mr. Kalyan Krishna.

Crimes of a funny nature

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Varun Reddy (right), on the sets of his film

It’s difficult to attempt comedy; whether you are a stand-up comic or a filmmaker. The scariest bit is what you perceive as side-splittingly funny, could have an adverse effect on your audience. And taking up the challenge is Varun Reddy, in his graduation film, Knock Knock.

A crime comedy, Varun’s film attempts to blend two genres effortlessly. “You know, I’m confident that people will find my movie funny, even when some characters die. My film is more on the lines of Delhi Belly and the cult classic, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro,” says Varun.

Making the film was a tall task. “Comedy is the toughest genre. But the beauty about it is that it blends well with other genres, and if done well, makes for wholesome entertainment,” explain Varun, who had to re-write his script a number of times to finally get what he desired.

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Shoot in progress 

“After I wrote the first draft, I realized it wasn’t as funny as I thought. I felt pushed to a corner. I didn’t have an idea about tone and genre when it came to filmmaking. The whole writing process made me realize the importance of it,” admits Varun.

But with guidance from teachers, Varun was finally able to write what he intended to. “Ashok sir and Charudutt Acharya really helped me with their feedback. I re-wrote my script; making sure to get the lines correct. In fact, my final script was ready just 15 days before we went to shoot,” says Varun.

Meanwhile, he refuses to divulge more about his film, except that “it’s in Hindi and shot in Hyderabad. My film uses verbal, physical and satirical comedy – but it’s not over-the-top. I’ve kept it crisp, smart and real.”

When the word ‘real’ finds its way into comedy, you can’t help but question if his film contains objectionable words and scenes. And with the moral and political watchdogs keeping an eye on all content, isn’t he afraid of backlash?

“When a person plans to kill someone, he will obviously cuss the victim. There are scenes which have Hindi cuss words, but they are not forced. It forms part of the narrative and comes naturally. But if that’s a problem, I’ll beep the words,” explains Varun.

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Actors on the sets of Knock Knock

An architecture student who fell in love with films, Varun sees himself making a movie every year. “I’m fan of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. He began the whole Indie film revolution and I really respect his approach to filmmaking. I want to make at least one movie every year; commercial or Indie. That’s the plan,” he says.

Varun credits AISFM’s regimented curriculum for helping him learn the art of visual storytelling. “AISFM is definitely the best film school in the country. They teach you the art of filmmaking in a structured and rigorous manner. And it’s definitely not meant for those who believe in the laid-back art of storytelling. It is hard work,” says Varun.

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A right to die, a will to live

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It is a subject that has sparked many a heated debate; a subject that finds itself the topic of legal interest in the country and world over. Euthanasia is never easy to discuss. So when AISFM student Sasindhar Pushpalingam decided to venture into this territory, the idea was to start a healthy debate. Titled Uyirmei, Sasindhar’s master’s film deals with the pain, irony and agony terminally ill patients and their family goes through when contemplating euthanasia.

“The inspiration came from a personal experience. My aunt suffered from cancer for years and her husband took care of her till the day she died. Seeing her suffer made me wonder about people who didn’t have the fortitude to deal with pain and agony. This sparked the idea for my short film,” reveals Sasindhar.

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Instead of going with someone younger, the director decided to revolve the story around an old couple. “I think the struggles of an old couple are a lot more relatable and real. They have been through a healthy and happy life, so in old age when infirmities strike, it hits them hard,” explains Sasindhar. “The couple in my story struggle with Pseudocoma – a neuromuscular disorder involving total paralysis of voluntary muscles except for the eye muscles. The movie probes their anxiety about the difficult choices they have to make, while fighting the illness. I wanted someone mature who could carry off the complex roles,” elaborates the director.

The lead in Uyirmei is played by veteran Tamil actor Mohan Sharma and artiste Lakshmi, popular in the Tamil film and TV industry. “Mohan sir is a writer, actor and director himself. He is from FTII, 1970 batch and knows cinema. So when I emailed him, he got back to me in 10 minutes! He loved the script and came on board immediately. Ditto with Lakshmi ma’am. She loved how mature the role was. And my story demands accomplished actors like them,” explains Sasindhar.

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For the director, the biggest challenge came at the scripting stage. “Penning the script was difficult. It wasn’t easy to write for my protagonists as there was so much loneliness, pain and emotional turmoil to express. Once I was satisfied with what was on paper, only then did I approach the actors,” says Sasindhar.

The movie which has already been shot is in its post-production stage right now. “I’m happy with what I have. The actors absolutely nailed the performances – it’s just like how I envisioned.  Right now we are in the process of editing, sound mixing and DI,” he says.

Quiz Sasindhar on what he expects from his film, and he says, “Working on the movie has been a very enriching experience. It has given me deeper understanding of the debate. I hope my film is able to add to the debate on this contentious issue,” he signs off.

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