How a SOAS student made a short film about getting into uni

film student

The summer before commencing university can be a time when you find yourself at a crossroads. It is the end of a familiar, relatively sheltered way of life; the beginning of an exciting yet uncertain journey into the unknown. It was precisely this situation I found myself in a year ago, magnified by my innate tendency to overthink and overanalyse the simplest of matters. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I decided to channel this confused energy into something creative, something constructive – and trying my hand at making a short film seemed at once the most natural as well as most audacious way to go about this. 

The poster for the film Tridib created

I have always had a great passion for cinema. One of my most vivid childhood memories is watching Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road) with my mother on a lazy summer afternoon – the film had a profound impact it had on me in the days that followed. The iconic shot of young protagonist Apu – around my age at the time – and elder sister Durga running through a field of kaash flowers, hoping to catch their first glimpse of a train as smoke billowed into the air from the engine was etched into my mind, repeatedly replaying itself as I lay awake at night. That was perhaps the first time I was exposed to the power of the medium, and in the years that have passed I have grown into an avid film buff, one who cannot get by without watching at least a couple of films every week. 

It was a fellow cinema enthusiast friend who developed the script with me, with another friend into photography and vlogging agreeing to help out with the cinematography. At the outset, we were constrained by our limited resources for production – the script had to be one that could be filmed in accessible spaces. It seemed natural to draw on personal memories and experiences for inspiration, and after some back and forth we settled on an exploration of the feelings and emotions surrounding the ups and downs of the college admissions process. The anxiety, nerves and general uncertainty surrounding the application cycle will be familiar to anybody who has gone through the process – particularly the American system. As a high school student, there were times when it felt as though my preoccupations with the unsure yet near future were consuming my existence at the expense of the things that really mattered. This was a subject we were familiar with as well as one which could largely be shot indoors with friends helping out as crew members, simplifying the production process.

film; still; student; university
A still from ‘Will it be Okay?’

With the execution of the film, I felt that it was important to seek to capture a related series of moments providing an intimate if brief insight into the protagonist’s mind – the short film format did not seem apt for attempting to capture an entire narrative or emotional arc. I wanted to leave the viewer with a temporary sense of resolution rather than a definite sense of closure; in my experience we as individuals achieve that sense of closure only over a period of time. Much like the memories in my head which crafted themselves into the script, I hoped that the film would slowly grow on the audience instead of immediately grabbing one’s attention, lingering in the mind with a bittersweet aftertaste.

Being based in India, in terms of releasing the film, we greatly benefitted from the explosion in the online Indian short film space over the past few years. There has been a significant upsurge both in content production as well as audience engagement with this content. After approaching a few studios, the film was picked up for distribution by a leading independent short film distributor with a prominent YouTube presence and healthy subscriber base. With the film now out there for the world to see, it is now for the audience to judge how well our vision has translated itself onto the screen! 

Watch Tridib’s short film below.

Tridib Bhattacharya is a second-year student studying BA International Relations and Economics.

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