Cosmic drift: Mrinal Dutt on 55 km/sec and beyond
The actor talks about playing a reclusive young man in Arati Kadav’s short film 55 km/sec
Would you slack off on the day of the apocalypse? Just take a trip to the grocer’s, a walk in the park, and that’s about it? For Suraj, the protagonist of Cargo director Arati Kadav’s new short film, 55 km/sec, the end of the world is no big deal. He wakes to the news of an asteroid hurtling to earth, but that hardly shakes him. Everything else is already in lockdown, and Suraj, you sense, is prepared to go out quietly. That he can’t forms the centrepiece of this strange sci-fi pandemic piece.
Suraj is played by Mrinal Dutt - an actor best remembered from the comedy series, Pawan & Pooja, and the Netflix film, Upstarts. 55 km/sec - was directed remotely, which meant Mrinal and co-star Richa Chadha had to set up their own frames using their own devices. The lockdown was still in full effect, so the mood offscreen was suitably fraught. “It definitely felt surreal and melancholic,” Mrinal remembers. “But it also made us dip deep and find a more centred place.”
Arati’s last film, Cargo, was a feature-length rumination on life and death set in space. 55 km/sec is admittedly lo-fi, but the themes run on. “We are so consumed with our own lives that we don't realise we exist on a small little ball in the middle of nowhere,” says Mrinal, a space-and-science buff himself. “Aarti’s films tend to explore that dichotomy — between human loneliness and the vastness beyond.”
For his next, Mrinal has signed on with the makers of the hit thriller series, Asur. The unrevealed project will feature Mrinal along with Priyamani and Satyadeep Mishra. He’s also done another short film for Disney+ Hotstar. “There’s a bunch of stuff happening,” Mrinal shares. “I'm excited and happy to be doing more.”