It's a proud moment for actor-director Aishani Shetty, whose short film Kaaji, has been noticed in the national and international circuits. The 17-minute film is doing the rounds the Short Film Festival in California, and screened at 8th Dada Saheb Phalke Academy Film Festival. In fact, the film has another award to it with cameraman Pritam Taggina Mane winning an award in the best cinematographer category.
An excited Aishani is now awaiting the poll frenzy to die down after which she plans to screen her short film at theatres. "We were thrilled to even get a platform like Dada Phalke Academy Film Festival to screen our film. And winning an award was just the icing on the cake," she says.
From hero in films such as Vaastu Prakara and Rocket, to now an award-winning director, Aishani says has been worth the effort. "I had taken a break from films to do my undergraduation a few years ago. Since, I had taken up mass communications, there was a section which gave us a sneak peek into filmmaking. That’s where my interest began. I like to write small anecdotes and even had a story in mind but was never able to put pen to paper. But this filmmaking assignment helped me put my thoughts together."
When she expressed her interest in making a film on the subject of a mother-son relationship to Sathish Ninasam, under whose production house Kaaji was made, Aishani says, "I told him about the short story and he encouraged me. The actor liked the script and even gave me some suggestions. But it required a lot of re-working. Somehow everything worked out well and to my advantage. I had the best cast and technicians," she says,adding, "Hitha Chandrashekar plays the lead in my short story along with child artistes - Madhura Channiga and Inchara. Pritam, a budding cinematographer and music Midhun Mukundan of Ondu Motteya fame came on board and got me a good professional team.”
Aishani says that her intention of making the short film was not for the sake of an award, but just so that she could give filmmaking a try. "But this recongition for Kaaji has taken me a level higher," she says.
Her film, she says, highlights the societal issues and discrimination against XXXXX. “I had once visited a place where I came across a family who lives like HOW ?????. Those real-life incidents helped me build the characters in my story,” she says.
While Aishani will continue staying behind the camera, acting, she says, is always in her mind. "I took up just one film, Naduve Antaraviralli, which I managed to complete shoot during my post graduation. The film is now in the post-production stage. The audio rights have already been bought by PRK Films. The makers are hopeful to release in June," she says.
Direction needs a lot of dedication, which she learnt while shooting her short film. "I am now scripting for a feature film.But I’m a writer who looks into every tiny detail, which is why it will take time. As for now acting is on a back-burner,” she says.