‘Small yet thought-provoking’ — one can define a ‘good’ short film under this tagline. Of course, there are short films that belong to different genres of film, but most of them would have a message to the public. That is perhaps one of the most desirable features of this area. However, the sector has primarily been considered as a stepping stone towards feature filmmaking by the majority for a long time.
And mainstream actors rarely acted in them owing to this reason. But, recent trends in the short film sector suggest that the tendency is changing.
Sujoy Ghosh’s thriller Ahalya and Nayanthara’s Necklace featuring Konkana Sen substantiate it.
Mollywood is not far behind in making fascinating short films that feature popular names. Candle Camera that saw actor Sunny Wayne as a citizen journalist, Nilam and Ore Udal featuring Sajitha Madathil, and bold avatars of Aparna Nair in Burn My Body, Rachana Narayanankutty in Moonamidam and Asha Aravind in Vaikittentha Paripadi are a few examples.
Recently, a bunch of mainstream actors have come together for another short film Punchirikkoo Parasparam, that talks about the need of smile in life.
What encourages the actors to choose short films? “Novelty in themes is one factor,” they say unanimously.
Aparna, who played the lead in Burn My Body, directed by Aaryan Krishna Menon, says, “I had chosen it because it was a very strong character. Also, the film was based on a real life incident. We rarely get to act bold characters, even in films. The response for Burn My Body, from within and outside the industry has been very good. In fact, the impact was double.”
For Asha Aravind, her acting career had begun in short films. “My first short film was Nurunguvettangal. Short film-making is not amateurish now. Like a movie, now, makers are concerned about everything, including the technical aspects. That is another reason for actors to take up short film projects. Also, it is the quickest medium to convey a thought to the mass. Everyone may not watch a movie, but they can watch short films even in their phones,” says Asha.
Actor Anu Mohan and friends started doing short films on experimental basis. “It was to see if we are capable of doing it. We did them to convince ourselves,” says Anu.
There are instances, where actors acted for free, like Sajitha Madathil, who did Nilam for free. “Nilam was a zero-budget short film and they asked me whether I could do it for free. Acting is my job and money is important for me. At the same time, it is a subject that needs attention from the crowd. Even I have experienced the same situation. So, I decided to do it for free,” she says.
As Sajitha said, it is mainly to pull the crowd’s attention that short filmmakers invite celebrities. Aryan says, “The theme of my project Burn My Body was different and I felt that having a popular face in the lead would enhance its reach among the mass. It is because, unlike in the north, the market for short films is still not great here. As expected, that worked out. In a way, it was mutually beneficial.”
But, it was not so easy for Aryan to cast the female lead of a nurse, later enlivened by Aparna. “I had approached other actors for the role, but they rejected. One actress told me that she liked the theme, but acting in short films would reduce her possibilities in cinema. But that mindset is changing now,” says Aryan.
What is the future of short films? Will it emerge as a separate platform like movies? “Yes. Just like short stories and novels, there would be a time people see these two as independent entities. For that, we need to create the ambiance. More people and companies should come forward to market short films. We should make it as a revenue-generating medium. I believe that would happen soon,” adds Aryan. Aparna concurs. “I believe that short film is future cinema,” she says.
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