Mridul George's Thalsamayam addresses cyberbullying
The writer-filmmaker talks about conceiving the 16-min short film
Mridul George, who made his screenwriting debut with Tovino Thomas-starrer Luca, has turned director with Thalsamayam, a 16-min short film that is pertinent and therapeutic at once. Tovino Thomas and Manju Warrier were among the actors who shared it on their social media pages.
Drawing from the unpleasant social media experiences of Mridul’s friends, Thalsamayam shows an actress (Neethu Cyriac) deciding to go live to interact with fans upon the compulsion of her PR manager. She agrees hesitantly, but halfway through, she spots some vulgar questions in the comments section. Shaken, she disconnects instantly. We later see Whatsapp interactions in which her friends try to help her get over it. Thalsamayam ends with a neat twist that reflects real-world behaviour.
Mridul had been planning to make a short film for a while, and the lockdown gave him the much-needed push. “I was thinking of doing something relatable and the fact that cyberbullying increased during this period stimulated my imagination,” he says.
Aside from Neethu Cyriac, Mridul cast his friends Ardra Balachandran and Ullas T in the principal roles and used the voices of Luca actor Nithin George and talk show host Smitha Nambiar.
Mridul says the Mahesh Narayanan film CU Soon was an inspiration. “CU Soon happened when we were hoping to do a short on cyberbullying with friends and relatives and wondering how to go about it. It was a revelation for us. The format is suitable for a subject like ours. So we altered the script to accommodate such a narrative possibility.”
It took some careful co-ordination through Whatsapp meets and video rehearsals to prepare the actors for their roles along with minute detailing for the text messages, video comments, and ‘fake’ profiles.
For the VFX pertaining to the social media portions, Mridul got in touch with Yadhu Sreeni while Nikhil Venu handled the editing, and Sooraj S Kurup wrote the music. Anoop Kammaran did the sound design and mixing.
Asked for his two cents on curbing the issue, Mridul feels that there could be an improvement if the IT laws are revised. “In some cases, a follow-up process doesn’t happen even after the culprits get identified. The laws need to be more stringent, and the actions stronger.”