Features, Hindi, India, Short Film

Director’s Note: My Sona!

My Sona! (dur: 4.22 mins, Hindi subtitled in English, short fiction, 2024) – an ultra, ultra short film on Najma’s Valentine’s Day in a Mumbai local train. An orange pip by Orange Peel Films.

Since 2019, Vivek Shah, my husband and a Director-Cinematographer, daughter Aiman, a writer and actor, and I have been making independent films under our banner Orange Peel Films. Aiman and I have been particularly interested in exploring the world of women, the stories of women, in a dark, comedic way. Vivek adds a dash of murder and excitement when he gets a chance.

While our last films – Mumu Shelley (2021), Kitty Kelly Ki Diwali (2024) and Chalti Kya Khandala (under post-production) – have all been extremely tiny budget films made with the help of tons of generosity from our peers, family and friends, and lots and lots of donkey work on our part, Aiman and I wanted to create even smaller works, which would be even less complicated and less expensive than what we are already doing.

The idea was that we would then be able to make films on a more regular basis, while we waited for our ‘bigger’ films to make some headway into the world and some money. The challenge as always remained to make a complete film, a complete story within restricted parameters of space, time and characters.

Both Aiman and I have always been fascinated by the Mumbai local trains, especially the ladies’ compartment. Faces, snippets of overheard conversations, busy hands, busy lives, the trains throbbing with the heartbeats of so many people in this crazy, intriguing city.

In My Sona!, this first response to bad news, was an idea that came from Aiman. Najma’s character came from somewhere in my own life experiences. I wrote some words, Aiman rewrote some. As usual, she was bang on with her costume choices. Vivek set up our equipment bag and the camera and sound recorder settings. The first day on the local train was a bit of a mess with us getting into a Virar fast. Not advised in general life, let alone if you are planning to shoot a film. We didn’t have place to sit; we couldn’t even take out the camera for a long time. And by the time we did get the right seats, ’Najma’ was morose and bitter. This was not the ‘Najma’ we wanted. The second day, we were practiced and at ease in a slow train to Churchgate.  The light in the afternoon was lovely, and got even better the closer we got to town. ‘Najma’ was the young, spunky girl, we wanted, glowing, undefeated by life.

What I loved doing – making the film for 675 rupees (though, of course, there are lots of hidden costs in terms of owned equipment and years of acquiring experience and skill sets), shooting on the run in a Borivali to Churchgate local (though to be honest, no one cared or flickered an eyelid, except inquisitive kids who wanted to talk to Aiman in the middle of the takes), writing, shooting, editing and putting out the film, all in 1 week. Plus there was the bonus reward of discovering the Borivali Platform 1 exit on Korakendra flyover, peaceful and a contrast to everything else that is Borivali station.

Enjoy the film here and share it widely, please. We independent filmmakers need all the love we can get.

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