Slice of Life - A short film about short films

The short film showcases the everyday arguments of a couple while they try to help a child get back home

Slice of Life - A short film about short films
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Garima Sadhwani

Having always wanted to make a short film about the current short film scene in India, director Prashant Pandey has done just that with his latest Slice of Life.

Pandey, who calls himself a practising screenwriter and evolving storyteller, has portrayed the nok-jhok between a couple as they drive around Mumbai searching for the home of a little boy they had given lift to on the highway.

Pandey says, “A fictional film within narrative as an idea has always been around. So, I took an actual event and turned it into a short film script.” He recalls how he too had once given lift to a boy who couldn’t remember his address.

Interestingly, the film also explores the dynamic between the feature film director husband (played by Shiv Panditt) and the short film director wife (played by Ipshita Chakraborty Singh), both of whom claim their format of storytelling is more relevant and promising. Pandey feels that this is not far from reality as “the boundaries between reel and real overlap” for a majority of filmmakers.

And so to pace the confrontation this duo has about a myriad of topics, the script introduces the child’s character as a catalyst. While Panditt’s character is “crabby and self-obsessed”, Pandey feels that Singh’s character is more self-actualized. He adds, “Any third entity entering into a loaded situation between these two people is bound to cause an impact on the dynamic.”

Pandey feels that a whole lot of learning happened for him on the sets of Slice of Life. The first was through his Director of Photography who had suggested shooting the film inside out and only bringing the camera outside the car towards the end. While it couldn’t happen due to logistics, it made for a great cinematography lesson. He adds, “We are doing another colour correction now just to see what we could do outside the deadlines.”

The second learning happened when the two-day shoot turned into a six-hour shoot, because the rest of the time went in managing the Covid regulations and fixing the many mishaps on the sets.

But he does say that even though it was a rushed shoot, the actors gave their all to the script. “Both my actors were so thorough with lines despite us not having done any workshops,” he says. What made the shoot even more special for Pandey was running into director Sudhir Mishra frequently, whose interpretative-conversational style was his inspiration for the film.

Panditt, who plays the protagonist in the short film, says he did the film for Pandey alone. The duo had first met when the latter was screenwriting for Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar Raj. He adds, “I didn’t even have to read the script. More than the character, I was drawn to the director.” This was also one of the reasons that Panditt didn’t charge any fee for acting in the film, the other being his love for acting.

But Singh, who plays the character of Suhani, says she had to fight for the role. “I have always been part of or offered serious roles and somehow it's my comfort zone but here the character Suhani is so full of life, glamorous and bubbly that I had to fight for it,” says she.

Currently, Pandey is working on the post-production of his next short film Daadhi, which he says is a “sentimental take on Islamophobia in mainstream television news”. Pandey also wants to make a short film that would “take a more outlandish, bizarre and critical look at the current short film making scene in India”. But it’s just one question that stops him- “who will fund it?”

He does have a word of advice for young filmmakers. “This is a very unforgiving and demanding format. So the best thing is to prepare as hard as you can and then be prepared to be struck by lightning.”

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