A paudha of hope
Shashwat Dwivedi took inspiration from rituals at home and Ash's rumoured wedding to a tree for his first short film
Kanpur, and all of UP mostly, is riddled with superstition. We grow up with it, and it's a part of daily life," says Shashwat Dwivedi, who grew up in Kanpur, and knew the day he finished his diploma in film from Asian Academy of Film and Television in Noida, he would make a movie about life at home. And so, out of the superstitions, his movie emerged. Paudha deals with the Indian superstition of a person getting married to a tree to ward off the flaws in their kundli, such as being a manglik. "So, growing up, you are surrounded by superstition... if a cat crosses your way, it's bad luck. If you shake your legs, your uncle will forget his way home, or if you wave scissors around without any use, then there'll be a fight at home. But, one of my cousins had been married to a tree, so I decided to zero in on that. I had even read that Aishwarya Rai got married to a tree," says the 20-year-old filmmaker, who shifted to Mumbai last month to pursue his dreams.
In Paudha, the lead protagonist, Shravan, and his family move to Delhi, where despite being thrown in a modern setting, are still holding on to their traditional beliefs. They find a girl for their son, and on the day of the marriage, the pujari spills the beans on Shravan's first marriage to a tree. Aanchal's father then asks Shravan to get a divorce from the tree. The mayhem that ensues forms the crux of the movie. "It's a comedy and we are just trying to show the lengths that people go to in the name of tradition." The movie, which has been screened at the Asian School of Media Studies as a part of School of Cinema awards and the Jagran Film Festival Delhi as an official selection in 'Indian Showcase' category, alongside Tumbbad, also shows how far Dwivedi had to go to even make the short. He didn't let the lack of funds of resources deter him. "Everything was done for free. It was shot by a classmate, and everyone acted in it for free. I begged, borrowed and stole for locations. I even indulged in a lot of barter. For example, for the shaadi scene, we shot in a house where a real marriage was going to take place. So we told them, we will decorate your home, let us just shoot here. So we shot and left, leaving all the decorations intact," he laughs.
As he made the movie, he also took inspiration from his favourite filmmakers like Zoya Akhtar. "I saw Zoya's story where she was editing Gully Boy, and had put post-its all over her wall to keep track of the scenes. So, I did the same."
For now, he is living with four friends in Versova, all of whom are trying to live the Mumbai dream. They have formed a production called Anda Curry Productions, and are in the process of getting acquainted with the city. "House-hunting obviously has been quite an experience. As compared to Noida, houses are so small. In the first week, my phone got stolen, too. But I think it's the right decision to come here—as I see so many people trying to make it, it gives me hope. It makes me feel, 'How can I give up? Abhi toh aaya hoon'. I can do it."
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