One of the films to be showcased at this year’s Chicago South Asian Film Festival is 7 Days in Slow Motion. The film has been selected for numerous prestigious film festivals and was recognized at the Asian Festival of First Films with a nomination for Best Writing. It also received Audience Awards from both the New Jersey South Asian Independent Cine Fest and the Stuttgart Indian Film Festival. 7 Days in Slow Motion was directed, written and produced by Umakanth Thumrugoti, a 15-year Disney Feature Animation veteran. The mission of the project was “to make a “fun” family film in India, for India, about today’s Indian kids”. BollySpice interviewed both the director Umakanth Thumrugoti and producer Soumya Sriraman, who gave us insight about making this family film, working with child artists, and more!
The director described 7 Days in Slow Motion as, “the common tale of academic pressure on kids and the children’s desires to fulfill their own dreams vs. their parents’.”
Thumrugoti not only directed the film but also penned the story, and says his inspiration was, “wanting to tell a ‘true’ family story for India — one that wasn’t fantastical or mythical and focused on “real” issues for middle class families.”
The story: Ravi lives his life by the pie-chart his mother defines for him – 60% education and only 2.9% for fun! When Ravi and his friends, Hamid and Onka, chance upon the camera of a visiting American tourist, Mr. Turek, they see their dreams come true where they can make a Bollywood film and meet the famous actor, Ms. Ray.
The path to making a film is riddled with problems: they only have 7 days to make the film and their final exams begin in 7 days; they must find a heroine, but alas, no girl will talk to them and they must turn to Hamid’s cloistered cousin, Saleha; Hamid, Ravi’s best friend and the self-anointed producer of the film dictates that without a song, there will be no film; Ravi’s mother must not find out about their little project because she is intent on her son getting the “first rank”; and Mr. Turek must be watched lest he goes to the police about his missing camera!
In his movie-making mission, Ravi accidentally captures some darker moments of his friends’ and families’ lives which gets revealed in a party, where everyone suddenly sees on the screen who they are and what they represent. They all turn on Ravi for revealing their true selves, but this truth results in life changes for one and all.
Set in a middle-class India, where the pressure of examinations is the most defining aspect of a parent and child’s life during school years, this movie deftly balances humor with life lessons to tell an important story.
Part of the story follows the lead child character wanting to make a Bollywood film. Why? “Because with those, the protagonist believes that you can have ‘good’ songs and don’t really need a ‘good’ story — a comedic jab at a commonplace occurrence in many films out of the subcontinent!”
So, how was it working with child artists? “It was great once we cast the main kids, finding them was a challenge — we auditioned nearly 300 kids to find the right fit.