Kislay’s debut film, Just Like That (2019), premiered in the New Currents at Busan International Film Festival 2019 and received Special Mention. It then won Film Critics Guild Award and Best Actor (Female) at Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2019, the Grand Jury Prize at Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema 2020, and has screened at Göteborg Film Festival 2020, São Paulo International Film Festival 2019 and Sydney Film Festival 2020. Kislay has also made three shorts and co-wrote the acclaimed film Soni (Ivan Ayr, 2018). Kislay studied in the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India, in Pune, was one of ten students selected for the International Student Film Camp, in Serbia, and was the only Indian filmmaker asked to showcase his work for the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) in 2015.
Shwetaabh Singh graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India in 2015 after completing his PG Diploma in Acting. Shwetaabh started his career in production with Just Like That (Kislay, 2019) and Eeb Allay Ooo! (Prateek Vats, 2019) both released in 2019. Just Like That (Kislay, 2019) premiered at Busan International Film Festival 2019 and won Special Mention in the New Currents, whereas Eeb Allay Ooo! (Prateek Vats, 2019) was shown at Berlin International Film Festival 2020 and won the Golden Gateway Award at Mumbai Film Festival 2019, where Just Like That (Kislay, 2019) also won a Film Critics Guild Award. In total, the two films won 5 awards at the Festival. Eeb Allay Ooo! (Prateek Vats, 2019) was only the second film chosen from India to be part of We Are One: A Global Film Festival 2020. Shwetaabh moved into production after spending 3 years in Bombay and experiencing the kind of work that was happening there. He wanted to create a space for like-minded people who believe in a certain kind of film aesthetics. He sincerely believes there is still a lot to be explored when it comes to the medium of cinema.
Neeraj’s wife has left him recently and he is contemplating resigning from his advertising job .The only thing which excites him currently is Raju, a 24-year-old man who makes living by collecting human hair from temples, big garbage hill, mortuaries and poor women in need of money and then selling it to exporters Neeraj feels that Raju’s character strongly resembles the protagonist of a script he had written years ago. By incorporating elements from Raju’s occupation and life he plans to finish his feature film script. Neeraj accompanies Raju in his trip to collect hair. He goes to distant areas where woman sell their long hair for money, he goes to garbage hill and is shocked to see different rates for different kind of hair. He gets excited after discovering every night for sleeping Raju hires a cot in one of the night shelters. Suddenly Neeraj feels that his film is falling into place, in his head, he can hear the post-screening clap, the raving reviews and people asking how he met this lovely character called ‘Raju’. Armed with all the details , he sends the script to Mark, a known film producer who has shown interest. Raju, on the other hand, is excited in being the hero of a film. He is love with Asha, a waitress in a coffee shop and he hopes that once the film releases, then he could woo Asha’s parents by showing his stardom. He gets very disappointed after learning that film will have no ‘heroine’ and it’s subject matter is his life . He fears that no one will watch such a film. He is disheartened to learn that in the film he is going to die in the end remaining poor like before. He argues that why can’t the ending be changed to him becoming rich and famous but Neeraj is firm and prefers a ‘realistic ending’.
But Mark, the film producer backs out from the project. He loves the idea but feels its too generic . He asks Neeraj to make the film more personal and autobiographical and include Raju as one of the characters. Neeraj’s wife meanwhile decides to shift her stuff from Neeraj’s house and return the pug, Toffee, which Neeraj had gifted her in order to regain the lost love. Exasperated, Neeraj tries to get the pug adopted but every-time Toffee is returned back because he is losing his hair and as it turns out he is not even a pure breed. Desperate for finances, Neeraj meets his old friend Ajay, who is recently become popular. He advises him to add drama and emotion to the script. A visit to a erstwhile producer Santosh, turns out to be an offer for shooting a corporate video. Neeraj imagines himself sinking in a morass, the more attempts he make to come out, the further he sinks. Meanwhile, new synthetic hair has captured the wig market. Raju’s existence is threatened. Raju decides to operate in the premium market of long Virgin hair. He needs customers with thick healthy and very long hair and his usual suppliers of poor woman won’t work.
As the market threaten their plans, all must find a way to survive.
Since making my first feature film, I have come to realize that, in the sphere of the market, films - big or small - are a commodity. A certain amount of money is invested, and to recover that money many strategies have to be followed; grants, subsidies, co-productions, marketing, etc. A filmmaker slowly learns these strategies and incorporates them into his vision. The outside world is also full of ever-expanding commercialization. But if commodities only existed in our external experience we could still be seen as individuals living in this harsh world. However, they have become assimilated into our dreams, desires, relationships, loves and hopes. The effect is both intimate and huge. However, the idea is not to depict (to use the cliche) a ‘cold, calculating’ world. The idea is to allow people to experience a world filled with innocent characters who can’t help but be calculating, sometimes consciously and often unconsciously. I am attempting to create a film with a double perspective, looking outwards at spaces and characters which are defined by the transactional value of commodities, while simultaneously underlining its own nature as a commodity. So, we visit spaces like a factory, a mountainous garbage dump, a homeless shelter - each a result of commodity production - but we also see the filmmaker’s internal desires to benefit from, to achieve fame and success through, the film. The film shapes itself in the course of its progress, influenced by various factors of its production.