An Indian Filmmaker from California is the winner of 12 film festival awards and receiver of 15 selections for the short film Out of the Box. A recent feather in the cap for this talented crew is the prestigious Vegas Movie Awards in three categories – “Best Sci-fi,” “Best First Time Director- Short” and “Best Child Actor.’”
One of the finer thriller shorts, directed by Keralite Shanu Devarajan, the film explores the unique theme of time travel entwined together amidst the COVID crisis and family emotions. It portrays the journey of an inquisitive young boy through a fantasy world of aliens, time-traveling across dimensions to meet his mysterious counterparts from the past and future. It also explores the unique attributes of the solar system and planets while narrating an interesting story that revolves around family relationships and social responsibility. The film is shot in Malayalam with English subtitles.
On how he conceived of the idea for the short film, Devarajan says, “The first story thread that came to my mind was about an interaction between a father and a son to solve an issue. Slowly, the narrative developed and I realized the scope for expansion. It was definitely a process that evolved with time and eventually, various instances and episodes got added onto that thought process. I am also a fan of Indiana Jones movies, where the plot surrounds a father and son, who try to solve mysteries that come their way. Those movies have inspired me right from my childhood and when this story idea came to my mind, the steady flow of thoughts was very natural.”
The film is experimental and artistic and keeps you on the edge of your seat guessing at what is going to happen. Divided into sections, the opening segment is a bit ambiguous, the music and photography seem a bit choppy. But as you continue to watch, the characters grow on you and are very charming and realistic. I especially liked the chemistry between the father and son. Seen from the child’s perspective, the family relationships and dynamics are beautifully expressed.
We often take for granted the dedication and involvement necessary to complete a film, but to work with your real family is even more commendable! The core crew is from a single-family. Director Shanu Devarajan wrote the script, screenplay and edited the movie, he was also the sole cameraman of the film. His wife, Suchithra Pillai, was the art director and their son Sarthak Pillai played the main protagonist. Sarthak was fantastic and his “Best Child Actor” award is well deserved.
Devarajan on directing his son, “It was definitely a fun experience to direct my son. I was amazed at 7-year-old Sartak’s acting skills. He was very natural and prompt at understanding what each scene requires. In fact, he used to get every scene perfect, right at the first take, and I sometimes would just forget the dialogue and sit in wonder seeing him act, which eventually ends up with many more retakes, because of me. He had an innate knowledge of scene continuity and used to even correct me if there is any issue with reference to the continuity between scenes. He was also aware of frame sense and easily adapted to the process, understanding the concept of framing and timing.”
The main portion of the film was shot at their house. Only a few shots were outside at locations that were less crowded considering the pandemic. “It was a tough process amidst covid lockdown and our second baby was not even one year old. Hence the schedule had to be planned accordingly, based on his naptime, as most of the shots required sync sound/live recording,” adds Suchithra Pillai. Check out the trailer for the film below!
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