In Hardik Mehta’s new short film The Affair, a man (Amit Sial) and a woman (Khushboo Upadhyay) meet at Mumbai’s Marine Drive to steal a moment of passion. This is a secret, desperate meeting for they rarely get the time to be close to each other. After a while, the man leaves for his home, accidentally carrying a sign of the affair with him. You expect doom to strike within minutes but it never arrives.

“I wanted to recreate the world of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee in The Affair,” Mehta told Scroll.in, citing Chatterjee’s Choti Si Baat (1976) as an example. An important part of The Affair has been shot in Malad because of the demand of the story, which was inspired by Mehta’s parents who lived in the norther suburb long ago. “I imagined my parents would have done in 1975-’80 what the characters in my film do,” Mehta said.

The Affair is not only about the story of a man and a woman in love. It is also about how people live in Mumbai. Much like Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped, which Mehta co-wrote with Amit Joshi, The Affair also talks about the Mumbai experience.

The Affair.
The Affair.

So did The Affair begin as a film about love or as one about Mumbai? “The idea came when I saw these anti-Romeo squad-type people harassing couples at Marine Drive,” Mehta said, “Later, I shaped it as a more intimate story where a person watching it could think, ‘Yes, I have been there, done that.’”

Sial and Upadhyay are well cast as middle-class lovers. The everyday nature of their pairing attracted Mehta to cast them together. “Amit has always been cast in aggressive, villainous roles,” Mehta said about the actor, who recently struck gold as a conniving cricketer in the Amazon Prime Video series Inside Edge. “But I imagined that my father in his thirties would have probably looked like him.” As for Upadhyay, Mehta’s wife and producer Akanksha Tiwari introduced the actor to Mehta.

Mehta worked on television commercials before he met Motwane, whom he credits for shaping him. He directed commercials and music videos and was the script supervisor for Motwane’s Lootera (2013). In between, he made the acclaimed documentary Amdavad Ma Famous (2015), which is currently streaming on Netflix.

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The Affair.