short films

A robber steals hearts in ‘Autohead’ director Rohit Mittal’s short film

‘Roop Ki Rani’ is described by the director as an ‘anti-fable about love’.

In 2016, independent filmmaker Rohit Mittal made Autohead, a dark drama about a psychotic autorickshaw driver in Mumbai. He is currently working on his second feature, Megalapolis, which he describes as “an experiment in visuals and sound” and his take on one of his favourite novels, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Demons.

Meanwhile, Mittal has churned out Roop Ki Rani, an absorbing short film about a strange encounter between two lonely individuals in Mumbai. The title is both a reference to the movie Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja as well as to the key characters. A thief (Arjun Radhakrishnan) breaks into an apartment one night. The owner is asleep, but his daughter (Sanya Bansal) is awake – and her gaze holds curiosity as well as a challenge.

“I wanted to do a short story that was more like an anti-fable, and I wanted it to be about love,” Mittal explained. “I wanted to explore the idea of two weird kind of people meeting in a strange place and how they connect.”

Mittal hopes to release Roop Ki Rani through one of the many short film channels on the internet. Despite the literal and metaphorical darkness that engulfs the characters, the film is a love story, he says, one that unfolds in a city not exactly known for optimism. “It’s a Bombay story – it’s about big desires, escape, loneliness, depression,” Mittal said. “The characters are a psychological outcome of what the city has become, but let’s not forget that we still manage to find love, somehow, somewhere.”

Mittal hopes to work again with Arjun Radhakrishnan, who plays the robber, and who has previously been seen in short films and independent features. “I think he is a very good actor,” Mittal said. “An actor friend of mine recommended Sanya. I could see the disobedient, fucked-up-in-the-head side to her.”

Even as he works towards distributing Roop Ki Rani, efforts continues to complete Megalapolis, a “completely experimental film” and hence a “tough sell”. Autohead went directly to Netflix after being screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, and Megalapolis might similarly land up on the internet. “It will have a different kind of audience, and I am hopeful, but yes, I am also open to directly putting it on YouTube,” Mittal said. “The idea was never to make an award-winning film that was saleable.”

Play
Autohead (2016).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

Play


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.