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Hold on to hope
-Meet the team behind Isolation — a film on hiv/aids made by a bunch not even out of school.

A bunch of high school and college kids with a borrowed handycam, nothing else in hand but a painstakingly-raised sum of Rs 10,000 and much enthusiasm. This is roughly what went into making Isolation, “a film on hope” by Sangbit Samaddar, a Class XII student of South Point High School. Isolation was screened at the conference hall of the Academy Of Fine Arts on Tuesday.

“Though it deals with HIV/AIDS, it’s a film on hope,” says Sangbit. The film, narrated in the form of a suicide note, is about Vikranth, a young man infected with HIV/AIDS, who is shunned by society, including his close friends and relatives.

Why pick this as a topic? “When I picked hope as a theme, I had a lot of stuff in mind. Being HIV-positive doesn’t mean that you have AIDS. Thus, there is always hope,” he says.

The team has an explanation for everything. How realistic is the idea of Vikranth’s college-going friends refusing to shake hands with him when they know he has HIV? “Very,” feels Sangbit. “Do you know a lot of people did not turn up at the screening because someone speaking at the panel discussion held after the screening happened to be HIV-positive?”

Sangbit is not alone in his passion for the cause. Part of the crew were Sangbit’s classmates Angikar Choudhury and Sandipan (Sandy) Bhaumik, who were assistant director and director of photography for this project. “I came up with the plan of making a film on hope at a New Year’s Eve party at my friend’s place. After we came up with a rough plot, we approached Angikar’s mother (Mousumi Choudhury, a scriptwriter for Bengali tele-serials like Ek Aakasher Neechey) for a script,” he says.

Meanwhile, Aneesh Basu from South City College and Siddhartha Basak from St Xavier’s — budding composers both — got started on the music for the film. And while the script was still a work in progress, Gaurav Chakrabarty, a mass communication and videography graduate from St Xavier’s and trainee RJ Ushnota Paul were roped in to play Raka and Vikranth, the lead characters of the film. “When Sangbit approached me for the film, I didn’t know that he was a school student. It was only when we met at a Cafe Coffee Day outlet to discuss the film that he introduced himself as a Class XII student,” Ushnota smiles.

For such a serious subject, the crew seemed to have a ball while making the film — with cinematographer Sandipan facing the brunt of it all. “There was one scene which was being shot beside a lake on EM Bypass. We (Ushnota and Gaurav) were sitting on the bank and poor Sandy was in waist-deep water holding up the camcorder. For another shot, he stood on somebody’s shoulders for a sort of bird’s-eye view,” Ushnota laughs. “It wasn’t easy,” Sandipan agrees.

The whole team plans on making more films. But before that, it’s time to hit the books for the school-going trio. “We’ll be kicked out if we don’t start preparing for our boards now,” they grin.

Do students have enough information about HIV/AIDS? Tell t2@abpmail.com

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