In the age of armchair activism, August 15 is often commemorated through status updates, tweets and pictures that symbolise either euphoria or disappointment. It was, perhaps, keeping this in mind that filmmaker Vijayata Kumar conceptualised One Day Mataram. The film takes a light-hearted, yet perceptive, look at the day-long patriotism shown by people on Independence Day and what the idea means to them after the day passes. Actor Vineet Kumar Singh, of Ugly and Gangs of Wasseypur fame, plays the lead.
To hit the web on August 15, One Day Mataram is one of the three films that are part of Terribly Tiny Talkies’ Independence Day special. In the six months since its inception, the short film platform has has had two successful series of five films each themed around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. While most of the films in the Independence Day package have a run-time of between seven to 10 minutes, the other two series have had films under five minutes as well. “The films were not designed to go viral. We just wanted to put out innovative content,” says Chintan Ruparel, co-founder of Terribly Tiny Tales. So their love series explored relationships between a mother and son (Deuce, which Ruparel directed) and told the story of a homemaker haunted by her interfering dead husband (El’Ayichi). The mother’s day special tackled father-daughter (Arre Baba) dynamics and the fallouts of a generation gap (Cuddly).
Terribly Tiny Talkies is an extension of Terribly Tiny Tales (TTT), the web-based storytelling platform that was co-founded by Ruparel and Anuj Gosalia. It features tweet-sized stories on love, hope, longing, amongst other sentiments, and was conceptualised in 2013, after Gosalia yearned to find meaningful content in the meme-infested social media space. The white scripts on stark black backgrounds found instant resonance with the masses. Today, TTT has over three lakh followers across various social media.
Ruparel says that they began deliberating on the gap in quality micro-films online late last year. Finding that content was mostly dominated by documentaries and social experiments, they sought out writers/directors who could conceptualise five-minute films with innovative takes on conventional themes. For the Independence series, Ruparel received nearly 40 scripts. “A great idea is only the beginning. Converting it into an audio-visual format involves challenges of getting together the cast, crew and costs of production,” he says, adding that unlike five films in the previous seasons, they did not want to focus on numbers this time.
The other two I-day films include Agli Baar and Bapu. The former, by Devashish Makhija who also directed El’Ayichi, is a gritty take on land scams and their impact on fringe population. “It’s been shot on mobile and laptop cameras and raises questions in very unassuming ways,” reveals Ruparel. Bapu, shot in Kolkata and put together by Sujoy Ghosh’s team, chronicles the adventures of a postman who discovers a trove of unanswered letters addressed to Gandhiji, god and Santa Claus, and attempts to respond to them.
Ruparel says they are not rushing to put together their next edition and will take things as they come. TTT recently collaborated with Amnesty International for #ReadyToReport, a series of stories on raising awareness about reporting on sexual violence. They’ve also previously teamed up with Cornetto and Max Life Insurance on themes of love and security. “We get at least five brand calls every day. But we want to stay true to the stories we feel strongly about and push new and disruptive content,” he adds.