Directed and filmed by Shamdat, ‘EasyGO’ has been shot at his house with a minimal crew
Shamdat Sainudeen’s short film, EasyGO, shot with a skeleton crew during the lockdown, tells the story of a couple. “It is shot on Sony A7S2 and iPhone 11 pro max. There were no focus pullers (assistants to keep lens focused during filming), assistant directors, art, costume, lighting or make-up departments,” says the cinematographer-director.
The short was filmed at his apartment at Kakkanad in Kochi. Besides the two actors, the only people on the set were Shamdat’s wife, Sajna Shamdat, their kids, Tashi and Talya, and Sajna’s sister, Jubina K Basheer. The credits read Sajna as executive producer, Tashi and Talya as assistant cameramen and Jubina as art assistant!
“When the lockdown brought the film industry to a halt, I knew that it would take some time for things to get back to normal. That was when I hit upon this idea of making a feature film with a minimal crew. Since shooting outdoors had several risks, I thought of doing it indoors. But before attempting something big, I wanted to see how it works,” says Shamdat, who has cranked the camera for films in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu.
The 30-minute-short is about a couple, Anna (Divya Pillai) and Vinay (Jins Baskar), who are on the brink of divorce after five years of marriage. They cannot wait to separate. But the lockdown forces them to stay under the same roof for a few more weeks and that eventually changes the equation between them.
Story and screenplay is by Shemin Saidu, newsreader with a Malayalam channel. “I had got in touch with writer Anees Salim for a story and it was he who suggested Shemin’s name. We discussed several stories that could be done with a small crew. During the lockdown, I used to hear noises from our adjacent apartment and I told Shemin about this. She developed this story from that,” Shamdat says.
As for bringing Divya and Vinay on board, he says that they have good screen presence. “I have worked with them in Ayal Njanalla. They were game for it when I told them my idea. So, every morning they would come home, have breakfast and we would start the shoot. It was finished in five days,” he adds.
The 46-year-old admits that it was “physically and mentally exhausting” to do everything single-handedly. “I am not used to shooting with such a camera. With no focus puller around, some scenes went for 35 to 40 takes. Also, since I didn’t use a tripod I had to hold the camera in my hand throughout the shoot. By the end of the day I was extremely tired. However, I didn’t want to give up because I knew that the film was coming out well,” he says. He has included time-lapse shots that were captured on his mobile from his apartment and has gone for “cinemascopic frames to give a larger-than-life” feel.
Manoj, also the co-producer of the film, is the editor. Music is by Telugu composer Ajay Arasada and state-award winner Renganaath Ravee has done the sound design. “With this work I just wanted to show that it isn’t necessary to always have a big crew and a lot of equipment to make a film,” adds Shamdat.
His directorial début was Mammootty-starrer Street Lights (2018), a Malayalam-Tamil bilingual. However, EasyGo is the first short film he has directed. Shamdat debuted as a cinematographer in Malayalam with Krithyam. Among his other films are Ritu, Kerala Cafe, Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, Ayal Njanalla, Oozham, Role Models, Uthama Villain, and Viswaroopam 2. He has worked with Ravi K Chandran in films such as Dil Chahta Hai, Koi Mil Gaya and Yuva.
He is over the moon having received appreciation from some of the big names in the industry. “Mammookka [Mammootty], [director] Shyamaprasad sir, Ravi K Chandran were among those who’ve complimented the attempt. Kamal Haasan sir called up to congratulate me. Having worked in two of his films, we ended up talking for an hour or so about new experiments in film making,” says Shamdat.
Currently working in a Telugu film, Shamdat says that he finished a couple of scripts during the lockdown.