Without the kindness of strangers, where would we be? Unclaimed, a short film is an exploration of the same thought

Posted on 20 January, 2018 by Team Wishberry

'Unclaimed' is a short film based on the real-life story of a German woman called Maria Schmidt, whose dead body was unclaimed for an entire month. In the film, Naseer Khan, a Journalist gets assigned to Maria’s case. His job is to uncover a backstory to publish in the newspaper. He chances upon her last wish while he is working on the story and interviewing people.

The film has already raised Rs. 1. 4 Lakhs of their target of Rs. 2,30,000 and they still have 9 more days to go! We got into a conversation with Ronak Singh, the first time Director of the film to know more about this intriguing story and his journey in the film industry.

Your film is on a very specific incident. Why did you pick this particular story?

Ronak: I was reading an article about Maria Schmidt’s case. What shocked me was the fact that she lived in India for the past 8 years and yet nobody came forward to claim her body. I also started wondering about what will happen to her body if nobody claims it.

In fact, I was so intrigued that I even filed an RTI to get more information about unclaimed dead bodies in India and the laws associated with that.

The premise of the story stuck with me and I wanted to write a film based on this real life event. In the film, the audience learns more about Maria’s character as it unfolds via four characters after her death. A journalist, Naseer Khan, finds her backstory and learns of her last wish. A stranger trying to help another stranger is the theme that pushed me to pursue this story.

Though originally a Computer Scientist, you have been involved with cinema for a while now..

Ronak: Oh, yes! It has been a long journey. I come from Gandhinagar, Gujarat and I graduated in Computer Science Engineering, back in 2012. But films were always where my heart lay. I remember, as a child, when I used to go to the theatre to watch a film, there used to be a curtain covering the big screen. And just before the film began, the curtain used to fold up and we could see the big screen for just a second before the film started to roll. 

That brief moment of anticipation where the curtain rolled up and cinema was about to come to life was what made me feel alive!

After college, I did few short courses from Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and even worked as a freelance editor in several documentaries, short music videos and commercial ads. After that, I joined Prime Focus and worked as an Editor associated with STAR channel projects for three years.

Tell us a bit more about how this film came to life.

Ronak: The more I read about Maria’s story the more compelled I was to make this film. Initially, I was very stressed as I didn’t have any budgets to make this film. I borrowed money from my close friends and put in all my saving to solve that problem. I registered and formed a small online platform called Black Frame Pictures to use it for the production of the film. And boy, has it been a crazy ride! Just 2 days before the shoot, two actors told us they would not be able to come for the shoot due to some reasons. We took quick auditions to find new actors who turned out to be amazing. From Union’s interrupting shoots to ask for bribes to shooting a week’s footage in a few days to save on Production costs, we have seen it all, but the final outcome has been worth it!

Behind the scenes

Why are your crowdfunding your film?

Ronak: It cost me Rs.3.2 Lakhs so far to reach here. And now, I have completely run out of funds to complete the post-production of the film.

The human emotion that guides us to act in kindness, that guides us to help strangers and that guides us to be selfless is what gave the birth to this film. In the same spirit, I am here asking strangers and friends to help an honest story come to life.

You can join Ronak and his team in finishing the film by funding his film here.

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