Posts Tagged ‘Aashni Shah’

Aashni Shah: Up Close

Up close with Aashni Shah, director of the smart little film, The Umbrella

We love film. We adore adore short films. Especially smart little ones with heart that pack a punch. So after tracking down Aashni Shah in London and subsequently in India, where she’s researching her next documentary, we’ve got the interview for you. Watch the film here btw if you haven’t seen it yet. We’re big fans of Aashni’s film and thrilled to bring you this exclusive interview.

aashni2Where did the idea for the film “The Umbrella” come from? I had to make a short film as part of my curriculum for my film school. Film school is one place where you get a chance to make the kind of films you love without being under any kind of pressure as to whether it will make money or not, etc. I have always loved films that send out a message to the viewers. The Umbrella, though very subtly, sends out a message that I strongly believe in ‘ What goes around comes around’ and ‘Life is a circle’.

How did you cast it? As ‘The Umbrella’ is a silent film, I had to be very careful with the casting. My school had a couple of Actor Biographies which I went through and selected my cast. However on the day, one of them didn’t turn up and I had to request one of my A.D’s to play his part. He happily took it on and I couldn’t have asked for a better thief..:) I distinctively remember one scene where I was making my lead cast (Julian Roberts) walk around the busy streets of Soho, London with his stick and glasses. He was so much into his character that passersby were helping him cross the streets thinking he was actually blind. All of them performed beyond my expectations. I was one hell of a lucky director. qqqq  Can you speak to the use of symbolism? As well as your choices with color. oooooo As mentioned, the film being silent, I had to make sure every character was well established and distinct. As the Umbrella itself was the protagonist, I thought it would work really well if I gave it its own identity, different from the rest of the cast. It was extremely important for the umbrella to stand out so that the viewers could relate to it.

Who are your heroes? I take inspiration form several filmmakers and actors. I think Sir Alfred Hitchcock is unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to have emerged. His flair was narrative and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else. Another one of my favourite is Mr. Madhur Bhandarkar (Indian Filmmaker) who is known for his socially relevant and hard hitting films. His movies hold up a mirror to the society. I admire Martin Scorsese, Martin Campbell and Ridley Scott for their striking visual style, incorporating a detailed approach to production design and their innovative atmospheric lighting. Amongst actors I hold Al Pacino, Robert Di Niro and Humphrey Bogart in high regards. With their intense and gritty performances they are an original in the acting profession. Their unbeatable performances have made the characters played by them classics which led them to become legends among film buffs and all aspiring actors and directors. In Indian Cinema I admire Shahrukh Khan.His commitment to acting as a profession and his constant screen dominance has established him as one of the greatest actors to have emerged.

You were recently in LA, what’s in the works for you? I was in LA for the Brand Launch of a post-production studio called Prime Focus where I formerly worked as an editor. I am currently in India doing research for my next project.

You have won and been nominated for a few awards. Can you elaborate on that? After I directed my first short film ‘The Umbrella’ I submitted it to a few film Festivals. It won the Best Director’s Award at the First Glance Film Festival – Philadelphia. I was also nominated at the Hollywood Film Festival (HFF)- Los Angeles. The experience of being at the HFF was exhilarating. I consider myself fortunate to have met legends like Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone, Dustin Hoffman and Hollywood biggies viz Angelina Jolie, Ben Stiller. Amongst others my film was nominated at Student Shorts Film Festival- Toronto, Best Short Film, 2008, Finalist Very Short Movies Festival- Los Angeles, Best Short Film, 2008, Finalist Portobello Film Festival, Best Short Film, 2008, Nomination

About The Umbrella

The Umbrella has been on the film festival circuit. Its use of color and metaphors is thought provoking, to say the least. For a short film, it tastes like a slow cooked meal with great ingredients and a lovely sauce. The films blurb doesn’t do the film justice – you HAVE to check it out. ” The Umbrella is a film about the cycle of life. Set in an everyday metropolitan scenario, and shot in stark colours, it conveys the powerful message of ‘What goes around comes around”. The film achieves this by following a bright red umbrella during the course of a single morning, using it as a simple metaphor…On the way, the film also explores the themes of blindness, chance, and urban living.”

– Duncan Alney