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‘The Countdown’: Another world in the city

On the set of ‘The Countdown’

On the set of ‘The Countdown’  

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Filmed in open-cast mines in Hyderabad, ‘The Countdown’ has a lot of the makings of a big-budget short — despite its ₹5,500 spend

Clad in an orange spacesuit, an astronaut — unidentifiable by name — runs across an arid land with seemingly-threatening smoke rising between the heaps of dirt. The bass thrums with every step the astronaut takes, and one can tell there’s an urgency in his movements. In the background is a haunting and profound narration speaking of existentialism. This is The Countdown, a science-fiction short made in Hyderabad, which will premiere today.

Karthik MSN first ideated for The Countdown when a friend showed him a harrowing article on how everyone in the world would be wearing oxygen masks in 15 years, due to the ever-worsening global climate crises. The creative and technical forces behind the film lie in the hands of three young men, director Karthik, assistant director D Chaitanya Sharma and actor D Chanakya Sharma. “I honestly couldn’t have done it without Chaitanya and Chanakya,” applauds Karthik.

D Chanakya and D Chaitanya Sharma on the set of ‘The Countdown’

D Chanakya and D Chaitanya Sharma on the set of ‘The Countdown’  

According to Karthik , who has a background in documentary filmmaking paired with a passion for travel, describes the eight-and-a-half-minute film as, “A tale of hope or the story of survival of humanity. Being first of its kind in India, it is an experimental film in the science-fiction thriller genre, in which an astronaut stuck on an unknown planet struggles to get back to his ship only to find that things are actually worse than expected. The film also revolves around the subject of the future of life on the planet.” Despite his love for travel, he found the ideal place to film a budget-constrained short was in the city’s own backyard.

The team also went all-in with their creativity, also crafting the astronaut suit from scratch. This, after copious research into the material and aesthetic for the sake of authenticity. They visited several industrial stores and Karthik recalls five days of stitching before the suit’s completion. Perfection was the key, and they weren’t willing to compromise one bit. Of course, budget was also a huge aspect. A lot of energy also went into prop creation, resorting to careful painting and texturisation to provide a rusted and post-apocalyptic feel.

Karthik MSN on the set of ‘The Countdown’

Karthik MSN on the set of ‘The Countdown’  

Environmentally, the boys were lucky to film at a mine in the city, having taken the right permissions. “The geology and the weather were on our side,” recalls Karthik, “because it happened to be raini; that created the smoky effects which we see in a lot of these science-fiction interplanetary films.” Making use of an environment to speak about the environment at length proves successful and Karthik is looking forward to wider reception.

The team’s already done a few small screenings around the city and he’s been met with positive response. “The most common reaction is the shock of hearing that this film cost us barely $75,” he laughs, adding that he hopes this film can be a source of hope in a time when budgeting for shorts isn’t so easy to come by.

Be sure to tune into The Countdown when it goes live on on YouTube on the production house’s channel Adwhyta.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 8:55:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-countdown-karthik-msn-adwhyta/article25879024.ece

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