After winning accolades for her debut film Safar, director Pratyusha Gupta has crowd funded her next, Oysters
In her early 30s, Pratyusha Gupta is not new to success. Last year, her debut film Safar (2014) won accolades including the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, and Best Short Film at the Indian Film Festival of Stuttgart. The young director is now back with her next, Oysters, for which she resorted to crowdfunding through a campaign on kickstarter.com where she and her team pledged to raise £5,000 (`4.7 lakh approx).
Oysters is one of the only five films selected for Film London’s London Calling Plus scheme, that aims to bring diversity into London’s film industry by offering awards of up to £15,000 (`14 lakh approx), commissioned by Film London. It is a platform for black, Asian and minority ethnic writers and directors. London Calling Plus provides more than just production funding. It offers a programme of training and mentoring by experts, to encourage diverse talents. “Oysters is a film that has already been commissioned by Film London, so we have money to make the film. But to make it well we needed to raise some extra money, hence the kickstarter campaign. The money we raise is very specifically for locations, as shooting on the tube in London comes at a huge cost,” explains the Chennai-born, who holds a degree Fine Arts from the University of Madras and studied filmmaking at London Film School where she directed Brodsky Books (2012) which won the Best Short Film Jury Award at the fourth edition of Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival, two years ago.
Girl meets boy
While Safar explored the class difference and a girl’s journey from the Devdasi system to overcoming hurdles in life and making an identity in the society, Oysters is a story about a girl, Sheena, and her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Javed. They meet years after Sheena’s sister passes away and the attraction between them is evident. “There is nothing restrictive about exploring human emotions and intimacy,” shares the London-based director while explaining the script. “With Oysters we are hoping to break the mould in the UK and other countries where British Asian actors are always stereotyped and portrayed either as terrorists, or victims of arranged marriages, racism and violence. Instead we want this to be a real, personal and intimate story about two people who are South Asian, but could very easily be anyone else,” says Gupta who has worked with actors like Vipin Sharma and Shweta Tripathi in Safar and this time has also roped in Radhika Apte (to be also seen in Rajinikanth’s next, Kabali).
— Saloni Sinha