As part of an assignment for my Film Studies course, I had to come up with a short film under the theme “Essence of Manipal”. I was very keen to writing a script so I took charge of it, while my teammate Dheeraj had an acting background so he would be the lead for sure. We were recommended to include 5-6 people in a team, but my dear partner didn’t wanted anyone else to be a part. So the daunting task was – coming up with a story with just one lead actor and with minimum crew requirements.
I had this urge to try out something entirely different. I guessed it ( right ) that most of the other short films being made in this theme would feature hostel, will revolve around MIT and would include alcohol, weed and stuff ( well, the most authentic essence of Manipal, no doubt). And while I’m writing it, I also have to make sure that the film would have room to showcase some camera angles and shots. This is being made for Film Studies, after all. So out of the blue, while I was watching TV during my dinner at the mess, this idea struck me – What if we are selling this stuff called Essence of Manipal? I told Dheeraj the brief idea, and he liked it too.
Thus followed my scripting process. I was absolutely clueless on how to start, so I Googled a lot of stuff. I decided to make a script like a professional scriptwriter, with the same format and by using a scripting software. The basic plotline was developed quickly. The main task was to throw in funny one liners and references all over. And that took a good two weeks, each day dedicating an hour or so.
This is the typical format for a TVC that we followed:
1. Introduction to the product
2. Showcasing their features
3. Customer Feedbacks
4. Their special offers
5. Terms and conditions
We start off with some random clips that would confuse the viewers on what is going on. Once it is revealed, we jump to explaining what Manipal is. There are three things that we talk about Manipal here – landmarks, foreign locales and diversity among people. The interviews represented the customer feedbacks shown in the real TVCs. But instead of the staged feedbacks seen on those, we opted for genuine interviews from different kinds of people. We just asked them to add the line “Please do buy essence of Manipal” at the end.
If the video reminded you of the TVF videos then we will consider it as an achievement. They were our biggest inspirations while making, editing and writing. The jokes were subtle, and to catch them all, you may need to watch it more than once, just like in the TVF videos. We didn’t even settle for a normal end-credits!
Of course, the film isn’t perfect. We missed two crucial scenes due to technical/time issues. The only other male voice-over (its mine, if you didn’t get it) didn’t match with that lively voice-over by Dheeraj. Some felt that Dheeraj’s performance was wierd. But so are those teleshopping guys, aren’t they? It was a perfect portrayal I would say! The editing was done in haste as we were very close to the deadline. Hence even though our guy Sannidhya tried his absolute best, the time crunch was visible in the video.
Neverthless, I am proud to have made the video, and that too with Dheeraj, the best partner I could have asked for. I am even glad that we could do it by ourselves. Else I wouldn’t have got the freedom to think to this extent.
And now, I’m excited to present this to you, my dear readers!
Lastly, I would take this moment to thank Ani, Subarna, Sanjeet and Sannidhya, among many others, in helping us complete the film. Say what you may, but this still wasn’t possible with a cast and crew of just 2 people. Thanks guys!