“The course of true love never did run smooth.” ― William Shakespeare
True Love is one of those rare thriller, horror that keeps you hooked to its story and then disorients you, makes you wince and reach out to save its protagonist.
A young girl, beautifully played by Anshul, is a tourist in Delhi. She gets intrigued by lovers' messages on the worn out walls of various heritage sites - strangely fascinated by them. And continues to go about the day, passing time, waiting for her friend to escape from her daily grind to meet her.
Things gradually start taking a creepy and deadly turn for her and there is a dark twist in the end that you might just want to watch the film to know. The film is crisply shot and edited and holds well not just because of it's strong performance but also because it manages to capture Delhi in its winter glory, exposing both its beautiful and dark side.
The writer, director, editor Ranjan Sharma who is an engineer turned filmmaker, and who remarkably made this film with a crew of 5 people, spoke to us about his vision behind the story and his journey.
Hello Ranjan, where did you grow up? What attracted you to filmmaking?
I was born and raised in Delhi, and only after completing my engineering, I moved to Mumbai for work. Films have always been a big part of my life since childhood. Love for the cinema is something I have inherited, I believe.
I was attracted to stories from a very young age. I was always a person who spent most of his time in his head. I would day-dream all the time and make up all sorts of stories. This habit became my refuge during boring school classes. It still is, but now I do it for a living. I started exploring world cinema and different genres in my school days. That is when the thought that I can tell my stories to other people through this medium took shape.
Could you tell us more about how you learned film direction - either on your own or if you went film school how did the experience benefit you?
I don't have a formal education in filmmaking. Most of my learning has come from assisting. However, I did a month-long course in filmmaking foundational skills during my engineering college time. And it happened to be my first real collaboration with other people who shared my love for cinema.
But apart from that, everything I have learned has been on a film set.
How was your experience of making this film? How you got the idea, and then getting the cast, pitching the idea. What were the key challenges?
We had tons of fun making this one. We were a crew of 5 people, all very close friends, coming together to create something we all believed in. I don't think I needed to look for a cast and a crew. We were all in it the moment I wrote the script. Anshul was never officially casted, she was always supposed to be a part of this. And she also had an indispensable role to play in the making of it, too, besides being a brilliant lead.
The idea was to take a very ordinary, mundane image or a thing, which we are so accustomed to that we don't even notice and give it a sinister twist. That was one of the basic ideas when I wrote the first draft.
I always wanted the distinct look of Delhi winter nights. Since most of the crew also hails from Delhi, it was much easier to manage things, too.
The key challenges were mostly the lack of funds and manpower. We went in a little underprepared, too. We had no locations locked for the entire second half of the film when we started shooting. But everything fell into place, fortunately. Between angry dogs, monkey chases, lost hard drive bags, we never actually stopped laughing through it. And we still do, remembering all those stories. It was a great collaboration. We doubled up on our duties so well.
What advice will you give to aspiring filmmakers in this industry? How do you find footing in this industry?
I would still count myself as someone still trying to break in. I have no idea if a formal education has any upside or the lack of it has any effect on where you want to go. It definitely affects your journey, but I think there is no substitute for practical learning in any field. Technical skills can help you find paid gigs and actually sustain you through your main struggle. But for that "main" part, you have to be present right in the middle of it to see how it is done.
Besides, there is no greater propagator of yours than your work. Finding a footing in the industry is hard, but I believe that good work, right people, and correct timing can happen to anyone who willing to look forward. Just keep honing your craft, earn and invest back into it. Keep the cycle going till you reach the right stage. That is what I am trying to do.
We love your work, and above all, your enthusiasm! What are you working on next?
I am currently writing a feature film that I plan to start pitching next year and probably have it made. Other than that, there are a couple of short films that I am developing. Hopefully, they would find the light of the day very soon.