This short film was my final project of Production Design in film school. Written and directed by Abhilash Vijayan, this 10 minute film was shot by Sahil Bhardwaj, edited by Navneet Shukla and sound was recorded and designed by Roopak Kalyani (all students of film school).
Story: An adaptation of a South American story by Hernando Tellez, this story revolves around a barber, his conflict between being a sympathiser of the rising naxal movement in his village and his occupation. The small village located in Chhattisgarh had been under a constant doom of the play between the government or military and naxal forces. The situation reflected in the faces of the villagers through their state of mind.
The film starts with the market running and people are up and about, a military march and then the moment the curfew in the village has just lifted and the shops are slowly opening up. The barber shop has an unusual visitor and the major portion of the film deals with the verbal dual between the barber and his customer.
In the initial stage to decide on our set since it was a studio based exercise, we zeroed in on a market place in the village, where we would have a barber shop. Essentially, a lane with shops on either side.
Recce: As our story was based in a village in Chhattisgarh, our team decided to visit actual locations to get a feel of how the place is in real. We needed to know in and around typical market places in the rural areas where we could locate a barber shop, since that was our primary requirement. We explored a few areas in a stretch between Bilaspur and Raigad, and a few villages around Raigad. This gave us a basic idea of the kind of houses and structures in terms of architecture and geography of the State.
Some reference pictures from the trip to Chhattisgarh:
Colour palette: One thing that we learnt from our recce was the colour scheme of our set. Talking with the locals there it was easy to find out their preference of colours when it came to the constructions there. Some colours were typical in the landscape. We felt it was best to carry out the colour scheme for our film as it was easily relatable and went perfectly with the feel of our story.
Plan of Set: Since this was a studio project we had to build everything from scratch and place each and every object that one would normally find in a real location for the audience to believe in its authenticity. Another factor which we had to consider was that we were working in a limited budget and time; hence we couldn’t afford to go elaborate with our set and build only necessary areas which were surely to be shot. We had to greatly depend on the shot division for our film to understand what to build.
We did go according to our initial plan of having a lane with shops on either side. Our recce helped us realise that a market place in a Chhattisgarh village is a mix of houses and later built commercial huts, as a lot of villagers preferred selling things from their houses. Only we needed to fix the kind of shops that were appropriate for our film. So we settled for shops that were basic and would reflect the status of the village. We avoided shops that would need or portray any kind of grandeur or well being. Even the little eating joint is not in a good state, and the pan bidi shop has really little to sell. The scenario when the market is open is dry and sad, and while the curfew is on is drabber. Our plan finally was a crooked lane diverted by a house that stands in the end.
Lighting: The weather through the film is summer, and in the afternoon… bright and scorching. We planned to have really harsh lighting to deliberately create a visual discomfort, which supported our look and feel.
Costumes: Gamcha is a must for men. Protects from the summer heat, either by covering head and ears from hot air, head for the sun and also used for quick drying of sweat. Gamcha colour is mainly white or bright colours could also be used. Clothing for men would be muted pastels or mostly whites and grey. The little poor could be wearing lungi (blue checks) and baniyan. Footwear, mostly chappals, are in black or brown. Or simple blue and white hawaiian chappal, or bare feet. Talisman and charms around neck or arm.
Old women in Sarees in de-saturated colours with bright accents (blouse could be bright coloured). Minimalistic soiled or oxidised gold and silver jewellery, bangle and nose ring being a must. Have tattooed hands. Talisman and charms around neck or arm. Other women in bright colours.