Rohit Pandey's Mehfuz (Safe) is a grim and surreal film about people on the edge of society, denatured by their constant contact with death. The short film features Nawazuddin Siddiqui as corpse burner searching for a connection in a world where he is barely visible.
The film builds it night-time world with some superb use of lighting and visceral cinematography by Vidyut Singh Jaswal that really zaps into focus every dirty detail of this man's existence, his dirty body, the way he eats his food and the bloody sores on his feet.
Mehfuz was released as a part of the short film anthology Shorts (2013) and was the winner of many international awards.
About the Director Rohit Pandey:
After finishing his school, Rohit came to Mumbai for his graduation but wilfully left it after a year and started working as an intern for TV production houses, along with some other freelance writing and film database researching jobs. In 2010, he completed a Diploma in Filmmaking, and assisted on a Feature Length Film which motivated him to find his own films and work towards bringing them to life. Lately, he has also worked as an editor for other shorts, fiction and documentary projects.
Incidentally Nawab was casted for this short before his Gangs of Wasseypur debut. We spoke to Rohit about his casting. He said that In 2011, while working as an Assistant it was during the shoot of Gangs of Wasseypur in Varanasi, where he'd first met with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and "watching this actor invisibly switching his persona on and off screen was enough of a reason to give him my own character. That same year post the shoot, in Bombay couple of us from the crew decided to make our short films. I wrote the script for Mehfuz and narrated it to Nawazuddin and Anurag Kashyap, and they both agreed to be a part of it."
Rohit includes Eugene Ionesco, Boris Vian, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Vladimir Nobokov, Edgar Allan Poe, Terry Pratchett, Carl Jung, Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, Salvador Dali, Caspar David Friedrich, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc-Godard, Jacques Tati, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Haneke, Werner Herzog, Roy Andersson, Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, Gulzar as his key influences. "My contemporary list will be too long." he adds with a smile.
Currently he is working on his feature length script and we wish him lots of success !