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Thriller with a new twist

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FUN THRILLER The cast is a mix of experienced stage actors and first timers
FUN THRILLER The cast is a mix of experienced stage actors and first timers

Sapno Ke Desh Mein is a murder mystery, with humour and romance

“Sapno Ke Desh Mein” an independently-made feature film — one of the first to go digital from script to screen — releases this Friday in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad. A campus thriller, the film stretches the conventions of production technology and storytelling. The film has experimented with narrative structure, cinematic form, background score, songs in a Hindi-English, raga-rock fusion.

A “fun thriller”, it's written and directed by Chetan Shah, a philosophy graduate from Cambridge, who worked on David Lean's “A Passage to India” before he established himself as an independent filmmaker of international documentaries, ads, corporate videos, and TV serials.

His Malay language serial for Singapore TVachieved top ratings and won six awards. This is his first feature film. “It's off-beat in a sense that it doesn't fit into a slot. It's not mindless but it's not arty, it has themes but it doesn't deal with issues. It's a thriller, it's light,” is how he describes his debut feature.

It's the story of a group of college students who think that a harmless prank has resulted in their Dean's death.

They cover their tracks, making it look like an accident but as the law closes in on them, they uncover a sinister plot behind the death and have to implicate the real culprits to establish their innocence.

The film is a murder mystery, with humour and romance, says Chetan Shah. Within this murder mystery format the film engages with a broader theme questioning the veracity of what the camera records, and the authenticity of what the eye sees.

One theme the film explores is that both of these frames — the camera and the mind's eye — are equally capable of distorting reality.

The film has been shot on the newly available High Definition Digital format, which allows a huge cost saving for independent filmmakers, and gives enhanced image and sound quality, says the director.

“During the shoot we didn't have to worry about conserving footage; we went up to 20 takes sometimes. We shot 40 hours of footage for a two hour movie – a luxury for a low budget production,” he says.

The theme music and background score — using only guitar sounds — have been composed and performed by Boston-based guitarist Prasanna on acoustic and electric guitar; no other instrument has been used.

Prasanna scored the music for the Oscar-winning documentary “Smile Pinki”. The movie also has four songs composed by four different ad-film music directors. The film experiments in a number of areas, music being one of them: the songs are woven into realistic situations.

The cast is a mix of experienced stage actors and first timers.

The young ensemble cast have been painstakingly assembled after extensive auditions across the country and largely drawn from Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore theatre.

Acclaimed cinematographer Navroze Contactor has wielded the HD Digital camera and noted classical-contemporary dancer Nirmala Seshadri has done the choreography.

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