Connecting the Dots
Filmmaker Shilpa Krishnan Shukla presents her multilingual feature film, DOTs—written, shot, and produced remotely
Ten individuals connected by a social networking app, five conversations, five stories, five connections... award-winning Singapore-based filmmaker Shilpa Krishnan Shukla presents her latest multilingual feature film, DOTs.
It’s been written, shot, and produced remotely during the lockdown. The film follows the story of people stuck in lockdown in various parts of the world. An app called Dots gets them to meet and interact. It’s all about the conversations between five couples, sharing their thoughts on love, loss, hopes, dreams, identities and choices.
Shukla had thought of creating a film with actors who she had met at different points in time. "I met them at film festivals and screenings of my previous films. So, I thought that this lockdown is the best time for me to collaborate with them," she says. With that, she began reaching out to actors in India and Singapore and started writing the scripts in early April.
The film is in English, Hindi, and Malayalam. Some of the well-known faces include actor Shishir Sharma, Malayalam actor Ahaana Krishna, Kannada actor Suman Nagarkar, Marathi actor Parna Pethe, Tamil actor Raaghav Ranganathan, Marathi film, television and theatre actor Lalit Prabhakar and actor, painter, and musician Saran Jith.
It deals with a variety of themes—casual dating, middle-aged dating, couples coming together just to while away time as well as an LGBTQ angle. Shukla explains that the inspiration for the subjects are day-to-day things that she has heard and seen herself — boredom, how people cope with loneliness and the loss of a loved one. While on June 13, the film premiered online to about a select thousand people from the industry, film festivals and the media, details for its broader public release are still being worked out.
Shukla’s previous film, Kathaah@8, the world’s first anthology in eight languages shot over nine nights, is currently available on YouTube, in association with the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation Chennai and supported by the UK Asian Film Festival, both festivals in which the film was an official selection.
Another of her films, a Hindi-English bilingual feature, Tashi (2018), is also currently available on YouTube as part of a collaboration with the Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati, where the film was an official selection in 2019 and had picked up the Best Screenplay award.
Her other independent, micro-budget films include Malayalam-English bilingual feature Pularum Iniyum Naalekal (2016), online sitcom Athazham (2015), Aravindum Aarumughamum (2014), Inganeyum Oru Katha (2012) and award-winning zero-budget English feature Mausams (2011). As part of an experimental project called Jump, under Black Dabba Productions and the Navya Project, Shukla is also guiding eight new debut directors.
A simple concept was provided to 16 actors from four different countries who were asked to make their own stories around it. The first film in the series is Vesta (2020), co-created with Mathew Jenif Joseph.
Shukla’s passion for filmmaking began when her first two films, each a minute long, were shortlisted in the top 25 films of an online film festival in 2008. While pursuing a career as a marketing director with a global healthcare company, Shukla mostly works with debutant actors. “I like working with fresh faces and train them,” she says. DOTs is her first film where most of the cast are professional actors.