The stars never compel: Meet the makers of Starchild, a sci-fi short
Posted on 11 August, 2017 by Team Wishberry
How did the story come to be?
Terence: Really early on, I knew that I had a story and I had an actor (Aishwarya) and I wanted to work with her on something small... something experimental. I knew I had a fantastic DOP with a lot of experience and who was also into working on a new idea. So, in the initial stage, the basic story was that of a girl who is completely lost... who doesn’t have a firm grasp of things... someone who is far away from home... she is either trying to find her way back or make a new home somewhere... we just kept developing the concept and one night it hit me that she is a comet who has come from outer space... I do have this love for all things cosmic... this was one way in which we thought we could explore the initial concept... through the story of a comet who comes to earth.
Where did the love for all things cosmic come from?
Terence: My first brush with a ‘comet’ was through that one particular scene in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai where they wish upon a shooting star! (Laughs) In my film, the comet is a woman. And her experiences on earth affect her in myriad ways — both negatively and positively. She appreciates human beings but she becomes acutely aware of their deficiencies — deficiencies that have shaped our current state of being. All of this presents her with the idea of free will and predetermination. You know, there is a line that a lot of astrologers and horoscope experts use after they have told you what the stars have in store for you — the stars never compel. Therefore, everything is about perspective. And this is the understanding that the film is trying to arrive at. Our protagonist discovers her own sense of being — her sense of being as a comet, who now has a heart.
How was it filming Starchild?
Terence: We had no money and had to devise ways to shoot the entire thing and do it well on what can essentially be termed a ‘zero budget’. The more one works for indie films, the more one can learn certain hacks and make a film that doesn’t have much money, look like it had a little bit of money. One such hack is to shoot on location. Added to that, we went into the details — for example, we paid great attention to our protagonist’s hair and makeup so as to make her look as real as possible. Aishwarya’s friend Priyanka was the costume designer and she was flown down from Delhi to do her job. The character has 5 different hairstyles throughout the film to show the passage of time. However, one hurdle for Aishwarya was to constantly change her hair and makeup, considering the fact that we were filming an indie film and therefore, didn’t have the luxury to shoot for extended periods of time. We had the locations — a field in Goregaon, a beach in Madh Island and a museum in Byculla. We had one day for each location. So, Aishwarya had to constantly film and immediately change her hair and makeup for the next setting. It was physically taxing.
Aishwarya: It was quite challenging. There were 4 locations and every location required me to change 4 times. We had to make sure that we were at the right place at the right time. There were no second chances. For example, at the museum, we had to make sure that we got access to it when it was relatively empty and for that we had to pursue the officials for over a week. At the beach as well, we had to make sure we were there right before the sun came out. The entire schedule was taxing for all those involved. All of us would report early and work through nights to make it happen!
Terence: Amidst all of this chaos, Aishwarya had to get into character and that too of a comet who comes to earth. It was a huge challenge! How does an actor play a comet?