Human touch: that thing we did not know was so crucial to keeping our emotional balance in check... losing it, and subsequently longing for it during this pandemic has, perhaps, put matters of the world in a fresh perspective.
This is one of the reasons why the timing of Sanjeev Vig’s latest short film, Call Him Eddy seems almost prophetic.
It follows the life of a professional cuddler, Eddy (played by Sanjay Suri), who meets Riya (Eisha Chopra), a documentary filmmaker who walks into Eddy’s home to document his profession but bearing thoughts that are equal parts curious and sceptical.
For Sanjeev, who was an assistant to filmmaker Neeraj Pandey, this is his second after the 2018 short Rogan Josh.
Call Him Eddy is streaming on YouTube under the Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films banner. “I had wanted to work on something that could be shot in one location. That way, it is easier on the production budget as well as on the actors,” he says.
Forget choice of work, cuddling is still taboo in this country.
“As a therapy concept, cuddling originated in Japan. It has picked up in the West where now there are professional cuddlers. But beyond that, it is a process that tells you to be more vulnerable [to one’s feelings]. And touch is magic. We actually restrict ourselves a lot fearing judgement by others. Breaking this barrier is a part of this process,” Sanjeev adds.
In the film, we find Riya warming up to Eddy, slowly learning to trust him before eventually breaking free of her self-imposed shackles. Eddy is also a complicated character; his past haunts him.
“If you love or value something, then you can teach the importance of it better to others. It is like how they say that every comedian has a dark side to their lives and that is why comedy is natural to them. Eddy is helping himself by telling the world that you need to start valuing things before they are gone for good,” he says.
To bring out emotions organically between the film’s lead, Sanjeev ensured the duo did not attend a workshop or interacted before the start of filming.
“In the script, Eddy and Riya had never met. In real life too Sanjay sir and Eisha had never worked together. So the vibes you find in the film is exactly what two strangers meeting would have. The more days we shot, they started gelling more, and you see it over the course of the film how when Riya warms up to Eddy, the change is organic,” he says.
Post the film’s release, Sanjeev decided to expand the script to make it play out on a larger canvas, and so he used the time during lockdown to develop Call Him Eddy into a full length feature film in Hindi.
“More people have texted me after watching saying they wanted to see more. I think this story requires a bigger canvas and more storytelling. I have just finished developing and writing a feature film script. Let’s see,” he adds.