Shreyas Kulkarni
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Director Prasoon Pandey on how the short film ‘Family’ was shot

In the short film, Abhishek shot Amitabh's part, Alia and Ranbir shot each other, Nick Jonas shot Priyanka, and Rajinikanth was shot by his daughter.

If one were to recall a video where we got to see stars from across the country, a majority would point out to ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ - a video aimed at national integration and to promote unity amongst Indians.

On April 6, 2020, across the channels under Sony Pictures Network at 9 pm, we got to see a short film on similar lines. Titled ‘Family’, it featured stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Mammootty, Chiranjeevi, Priyanka Chopra, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Sonalee Kulkarni, Shiva Rajkumar, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Diljit Dosanjh.

And this short film too was made for a cause - the workers and daily wage workers of the Indian film industry are facing hardships due to the lockdown - no shootings take place so they have no source of income.

The stars who shot their clips from home came together with sponsors and TV channel to raise a fund that will be distributed to these workers and daily wage earners.

Four minutes and thirty-five seconds long, the short film was conceptualised and virtually directed by Prasoon Pandey, founder of Corcoise Films.

Prasoon Pandey (Image sourced from Pune Design Festival)
Prasoon Pandey (Image sourced from Pune Design Festival)

He told us the idea of the film came to him organically after he listened to Prime Minister Modi impose a nation-wide 21-day lockdown as an attempt to halt the virus’ spread. “…a piece of drama where the actors don’t step out of their houses, the director doesn’t step out of his house, the editors don’t step out of their houses..,” he said.

The next day Prasoon fleshed out a story and showed it to Amitabh Bachchan who was excited after hearing it and likened it to, “…hitting the ball out of the park.”

The original aim at that time was to give a message, “…you can stay in your house, not get bogged down, and put your time to good use…”. But, Amitabh Bachchan asked why to stop at giving a message and why not rope in sponsors and collect funds? The legendary actor then went ahead to speak to them and as a result, Sony and Kalyan Jewellers came in as sponsors.

Prasoon also spoke about showing the ad to Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt who loved the idea and suggested , “Why don’t you make it bigger, why don’t you make it pan-India?” The two said that the film industry is all India. Amitabh Bachchan went ahead and spoke to the artiste from the other film fraternities who jumped in at the idea.

A point of worry for Prasoon after the actors agreed to the short film was explaining to the stars, “…How the shot should precisely be because it has to connect to the next shot.”

As a solution, he decided to make a template film out of his home where each shot he wanted from the stars was present. It was then shared with the them on the 2nd of April and he requested them to shoot their bits from home on the 3rd of April.

Despite such short notice, the stars went ahead and shot the videos and sent it by the very evening. While there were a few hiccups, the big stars were gracious enough to reshoot and match it to the template provided to them.

One thing that people don’t see Prasoon says is how people opened their hearts and came together to work on this film. Since every star shot their bit from their homes, who was the one holding the camera?

“Amitabh Bachchan was shot by Abhishek Bachchan, Alia was shot by Ranbir who was then shot by Alia, Priyanka Chopra was shot by Nick Jonas, and Rajinikanth was shot by his daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth.”

Everyone came together as a family to work on the project but the name ‘Family’ wasn’t thought of during the initial stages of the project. “The title occurred to us easily because everyone pitched in as a family,” claimed Prasoon.

By the time all the clips came to Prasoon, it was April 5 and it had to go live on April 6. Speaking of the music, he said that along with the music director, “We were virtually ideating based on the template film I’d made. And the editor and I were working all through the night.”

After getting all the clips, Prasoon and his team had to put them together within a short period. Explaining how they went about it, “My editor Shyam Salgaonkar (Sally) along with online artist Amit Chitnis sat through the night editing the clips, they’d send it to me, I would see it, agree to something or tell them no this is not working or to cut this and that, send it back. But that part I was used to because we’ve worked from home a lot before.”

“Music was tough because normally I’m there all the time...” The music director of this short film is Dhruv Ghanekar. “Dhruv and I have worked so much with each other that we knew our way around it and we said okay, we can do this.”

He added: “We wanted it to be a positive and bright film and yet there is a sentimental end so everything, in the end, had to blend in.”

Along with the fund, Amitabh Bachchan roped in the Future Group to ensure a month’s ration also goes to the families of the affected and not just money.