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Except actors, everyone should do everything – there’s no small or big job on a set – Souvik Gupta

Souvik Gupta-stagephod-Neighbour

Read on to know more how Souvik Gupta made a short film Neighbour with lots of Jugaads and in minimal resources.

Tell us about you and your team (if you have) in brief

Well, I don’t have a fixed technical team, though I did work with the same DOP for my first 2 short films. However, the one person who has been there with me in my short film making stint in Mumbai is one of my dearest friends and my producer, Praveen Dhawan.

How did you come up with the idea of this particular short film?

Well, in all honesty, I started thinking about NEIGHBOUR when I read about the Re-Think India Short Film Competition, organised by Citizens for Peace and Shamiana. It was actually the name of the judges assimilated by Citizens for Peace, which included R Balki and Rahul Dholakia, that appealed the most. The topic that year was tolerance in terms of class / caste / community / religion etc. However, I wanted to address something else in addition to the tolerance aspect. So, I dabbled in something I have always believed is a huge social menace i.e. domestic violence, and that women should stand up for themselves.

The problem then was that I didn’t want it to be preachy. So, I decided not to have dialogues and let the drama and the emotions speak for themselves. It was then crucial that the visuals concur with what I had in mind. So, I decided to let shoot the film in black and white, because the contrast between these 2 colours brings out emotions best. As cinephiles, a lot of us would agree that the play of light and shadow in a black and white frame is so much evocative than a coloured one.

Souvik Gupta stagephod Neighbour

What all prominent “Jugaads” did you do to make the film with minimal resources?

I think the first and most important Jugaad in NEIGHBOUR was that I didn’t pay any cast or crew member, except the editor. So, my actors (Pritee and Hussein) worked for free, my DOP (Tejasvi Bhalla) shot the entire film without charging any money and my AD worked a lot for just food. I know it’s a standard practice in short films, but I think it definitely helped me make this film. The second and equally important Jugaad was that I shot the entire film in my own and my neighbour’s apartment. I couldn’t have hired a place to shoot the film for it would have been very expensive. Also, the music was mostly copyright-free music arranged by my friend Somdeb Chatterjee.

What recognition did you get for this short film?

We started off by winning Runners Up award and 20,000 rupees at Re-Think India competition. NEIGHBOUR was then selected Finalist for Advantage India competition, WLC Media, and was also screened at a few other places including Kala Ghoda.

Souvik Gupta stagephod-Neighbour

What advice will you give to new / aspiring film-makers on making a low budget film?

Bargain really hard with everyone. My light supplier was scared of answering my call, and used to only talk to my DOP, because of my haggling skills. However, I still managed to get the lights in the rate I could afford to. Therefore, I missed neither my lights nor the budget. It’s better to have a fixed script, as we generally run short of time in ventures like these. Except actors, everyone should do everything – there’s no small or big job on a set. So, behave whatever way you want to but get your work done.

Link to the short film – Neighbour.

To know more about Souvik, click here.


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