The rising demand for the engineering profession has created a huge populace of engineering students in Kerala. Many among this large pool of students join the course on account of sheer parental pressure. If the results of engineering colleges in the State are anything to go by, a significant percentage of these students fail to clear their examinations. At the end of their course these students are left with arrears which, at times, cross double digits.

A brand new, refreshing Malayalam short film, titled Semester 8, deals with the story of such ‘arrear-students’. It has become the latest sensation on YouTube, gathering over 50,000 views in a span of just four days, and has reached the peak of popularity by securing its place in the elite YouTube trends list.

“Engineering students with back-papers face a lot of discrimination,” says Arun Antony, writer and director of Semester 8. “These talented students, who end up with arrears due to a variety of reasons that range from lack of interest in the subject to distractions, are looked down upon by both teachers and students alike. I realised the angst of these students when I too ended up with an arrear while in college. I felt I could relate to them, and thought I would bring out their story through a short film,” he explains. The film was shot entirely in Karunya University, Coimbatore, with all actors and most crew members (including Arun – who graduated in Electronics and Media Technology this year), being either students or alumni of the institution.

A lot has gone into the production of this short film, which was shot in a span of over three weeks in the University. “We decided to leave no stone unturned in making this film a work of art. We’ve used professional equipment such as tracks and dolly for the shooting. Often while the shoot was going on, there would be a huge crowd watching us by the sides, assuming that ours was a big-budget, full-length flick,” mentions Arun with a smile.

Semester 8 would not have been a success had it not been for the commitment of the actors and crew.

“Initially, the actors who signed up were under the impression that this was just another short film. But seeing how we took the entire venture seriously, they too started putting their best foot forward. The irony in the movie is that all the actors who portray the roles of students with arrears have excellent academic records,” says Arun. The crew battled a plethora of odds to add that mark of perfection to the film. “We had a scene, which was to be shot entirely at night, at a building under-construction. While the filming was on past midnight, the power got disrupted. Yet, all actors and crew members waited patiently in the dark for over an hour, and when the power was back on, the shoot resumed,” he reminisces.

The cinematographer of the short film is Samuel Anand. Livingston Mathew is the editor and sound designer. Sanjeeth Edwin has given the background score, whereas the lyrics and dialogues have been written by Johnz Joy. While Jobin George is the designer, Felix Raju has done the casting. Jacob Roy Chacko has managed the finances of the short and Adarsh Joseph Palamattam is the production controller. Agin Vincent, Akhil John, Leo Paul Jose, Deepu Peter Thomas and Easo George are the lead actors in this short film.

Watch the film at