It can be an embarrassing situation for most men. But when Naveen Kasturia’s character is unable to make love to his girlfriend, he has to seek medical attention. In debutant filmmaker Hardik Mehta’s short feature Skin Deep, a young man experiences a situation where his foreskin becomes a test for the viability of his relationship with his girlfriend (Aditi Vasudev). “I haven’t met anybody with such a problem but I thought this film could be a light take on somebody dealing with such an issue. And how the big city can conspire against a couple,” says Mehta, who graduated from Jamia Milia Islamia in 2008 with a degree in Mass Communication. The film will release on May 29, along with three other short films: Blouse (directed by Vijayeta Kumar); Manilla Running (directed by Anuj Gulati) and Bawdi (directed by Vivek Soni) across PVR Director’s Rare outlets, under the collective title, Chaar Cutting.
The script for Skin Deep, which has been written by filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane, originally was the story of a junior government officer and was set in a small town in north India. But for his 20-minute feature, Mehta tweaked the setting and characterisation of the main actors to make it a “little less abstract and dark”. In the film, the protagonist, Sanjay Gandhi, needs to undergo circumcision before he marries his girlfriend. The character is named Sanjay Gandhi, after the sterilization programme adopted by Gandhi in mid ’70s. “When I read the story I found it quirky and interesting — how somebody’s consummation of love can be dependent on foreskin. I also changed the setting to Mumbai,” says Mehta, who had worked as a script supervisor in Motwane’s Lootera (2013).
A former dairy and food technology engineer with Amul, Mehta was never set on being one. “The only thing I would look forward to during my engineering days was watching a movie on Friday. So I thought that if I had to become a filmmaker, now was the best time,” adds Mehta.
Having assisted as a script supervisor on projects such as Vikas Bahl’s Queen and Dev Benegal’s Road,Movie, Mehta was looking for a break as a filmmaker. He presented a rough draft of the script of his feature film about three fathers and three sons, to Motwane, but the latter was not so impressed. “He presented me his short story instead. And he said, ‘you need to make a short film first so that producers will have confidence in you to support a feature length film’. I could not exactly uncover the quirkiness of the story. I could have made it with a little more black humour,” says Mehta, whose short film has been screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, New York Indian Film festival and the short documentary festival in Kerala.