Prithviraj Das Gupta wrote and directed Clinton, which was produced by Raghav Diwan and Nishith Dhimant Shah. It was also co-produced by Vivek Bhadra, Jigar Gori, and Prithviraj Das himself. The story takes place in a boarding school in Kalimpong, where 10-year-old Clinton had the toughest day of his life on a winter Sunday. To protect himself, he forfeits his most prized possession and reveals his own untapped might.
Up to this point, Clinton has won seven honours in seven different nations and received fifteen recognised choices. The Indian movie was also screened in a number of other nations, including Bangladesh, France, Russia, South Korea, and Turkey. Additionally, it took home the top prize at Kidz Cinema 2022 and the International Short Film Festival of India in 2022. It also received a special mention at the Paris International Children Care Film Festival. In this exclusive interview with Prithviraj Das Gupta, get to know about all that it took to bring Clinton to the world:
1. How did the idea of drafting a storyline that revolves around nostalgic childhood days come to your mind?
This is my first story as a writer and the idea of writing it came to mind around five years ago. Before I started drafting the story one of my mentors advised me to write something that is inspired by real life and thus I wrote the story of Clinton by taking ideas from some real-life incidents that I witnessed in my childhood. Initially, I wanted to make a full-length feature film, however, due to an insufficiency of resources, I had to drop that idea and decided to make a short film as a pilot with the motive of pitching the story to ultimately make a feature film. Thus, I along with the team started searching for ways by which we could maintain high quality within a limited budget. Our hard work paid off and everyone loved the short film Clinton so much that it became a standalone entity in itself but the idea of making a feature film is still there.
2. What made you select Kalimpong as your location?
As mentioned earlier that this story is inspired by some incidents that I saw in my boarding school, therefore, I thought what better location could be than shooting the film in the original location of its inspiration, thus, my school in Kalimpong was finalised. In the initial days, me and the Director Of Photography, Gourav Roy went to stay in Kalimpong for two to three months so that we could experiment to design everything by ourselves. After lots of trial and error, we came to the conclusion of making our own lights and other equipment. So we got a few carpenters and electricians to help us with it, the process was new yet an interesting one. Since the beginning, I wanted to give the whole film a wintery feel but we were shooting in February so we had to use some strategies to give the foggy effect. Then the next idea was to show the school as a jail where the students were imprisoned. So in order to bring that, the film*s art and costume director Bipasana Roy played around with colour pallets and ultimately brought my vision into reality.
3. How did the whole cast come together?
Well, the idea since the beginning was to cast unknown faces, even though for once I decided to get a child actor on board from Mumbai but none of them was a perfect fit. So then I went on and chose to audition kids in Kalimpong itself, this is when I met the protagonist of the story, Clinton whose role was played by Jason Rai. The little introvert boy Jason came to audition with his sister but after having a word with him, it seemed as if he was the perfect match. Even though making a shy boy familiar with a camera was difficult but it was all worth it. Other actors including Anmol Limboo as Roxy, Nursang Tamang as Dichen Palden and Tenzein Choden as Leena, were already experienced and working with them was pretty smooth.
4. It seems like the whole crew played a significant role in bringing this film to life, can you briefly explain that?
To be completely honest, I think the crew I was working with contributed me in having the smoothest shoot ever. I met Srijana Pradhan, the Executive Producer of the movie, who helped me find the best team and produce an outcome that was out of this world. Speaking of the art and custom director, Bipasana Rai, and the Director of Photography, Gourav Roy, I had previously worked with both of them on my first movie, Green Blackberries, so I trusted their knowledge and skills. Both of them contributed to the overall outcome thanks to their talent and creativity. In other words, the creation of the Clinton universe involved the entire team in a big way.
5. What is the road ahead for Clinton?
A terrific position has been accomplished by the short film Clinton. It is receiving recognition at numerous prestigious film festivals. However, more than that what makes me happy is the fact that people are appreciating the storyline wholeheartedly and soon enough we will also release it as a short film. Now, the full focus will be on making Clinton into a full-length feature film. To make that come true, Raghav Diwan and I have been pitching the story on national as well as international levels and are getting positive responses. So hopeful, in no time I will successfully showcase my nostalgic boarding school story to the world.