Teaspoon is based on everyday emotions that bubble & trouble
Ad-maker and author turned filmmaker Aban Bharucha Deohans talks about the experience of working on her first short film Teaspoon, which was selected for the Jagran Film Festival.
What is your film all about?
Teaspoon is based on relationships. The everyday emotions that bubble and trouble. Except that in Teaspoon, these emotions blow up in way that leads to a disturbing end.
Your film shows how a woman is metaphorically trapped between the desires and responsibilities in her house. Comment.
The protagonist Kavita has resigned herself to the fact that she is stuck in a situation wherein the four walls of her home would be her life. But that doesn’t stop her from hoping that things would be different and maybe her husband could pull her out of the confines of this jail at least for a weekend. She’s not a bad daughter-in-law; just a tired one.
The film also talks about the increasing uncaring attitude of children towards their own parents. What inspired this film?
I would say India is one country that still cares for its elderly. But yes, today’s generation would probably not have the patience nor the empathy to do what maybe our parents’ generation did. There have been several instances where a friend’s parent would sound exasperated about being housebound because an ailing in-law or parent was at home, and that set me thinking. And I thought, often, it would be the caregiver that would need more sympathy than the patient. In fact, when I was doing foley (sound) for the film, the technician said that he could totally empathise with Kavita and that this situation must be playing in millions of homes in our country.
I firmly believe that what goes around comes around. But in Teaspoon, the end is deliberately ambiguous. I wanted people to actually wonder what she would do now. I have had people tell me that maybe she imagined the entire tak-tak-tak sound. That what she hears in the end, is her imagination at play. And then they (people) themselves dismiss it because they remind themselves that there were indent marks of the teaspoon on the bed post! I loved this deliberation; it meant this had gotten under their skin and troubled them. And that’s what any form of art should do – shake you, shock you, or amuse you, get you angry. I wanted the sound tak-tak-tak to stay with the audience long after the film is over. So they understand that Kavita, who lives with that sound day in and day out, must be so frustrated that she even dreams about it.
Please talk about your journey of writing this film and eventually making it with your team.
The script I first finalized for my short film was an endearing story of a prostitute and her son, called Mera Happy wala Birthday. But the duration of that script was over 50 minutes. It was becoming a long, short film, and I couldn’t edit out any of the scenes because I needed a build up for the climax. Also, it required a huge cast and economically it just stopped being viable. So I decided to keep that script aside and thought I’d turn it into a feature script some day and moved on to writing Teaspoon. I already had a basic graph in my head; I just needed to polish it.
You have worked in the ad world for so many years before directing this short film. How did the experience in advertising help? What are your aspirations as a filmmaker?
Advertising is a discipline, and I value what I learnt all these years. Besides I had a wonderful teacher; my husband Kiran Deohans, who is a brilliant DOP. Whatever I may know of filmmaking is thanks to him. Advertising also teaches you to focus on the story. We have 30 seconds to tell a tale when we do commercials so we cannot have random shots merely because they look nice. I believe, if a scene doesn’t say anything about your character, or doesn’t move the story forward, junk it. As a filmmaker my ultimate goal is of-course to direct a feature film.
I already have a couple of feature film scripts ready; just waiting for that elusive entity called ‘producer’!!!! ☺
What tips would you like to share with filmmakers working on their first films.
Just go ahead and do it. Don’t ask a million people how the script is; you will get loads of advice that will only confuse you. If an idea appeals to you, just go and shoot.