Mainstream actors are looking at short films to experiment with new concepts and it is a hit or miss actually. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Jackky Bhagnani came up with Carbon, which was laughable, Jackie Shroff came up with Shunyata, which was an intense watch. Now, Ashutosh Rana has made his short film debut with the short film Test Drive, which is quite a confusing ride. Films about people looking for a break in films can be entertaining and thought provoking at the same time – like The Girl on Heels that’s currently showing on SonyLIV.
Test Drive is about Shantanu (Ashutosh), who is looking for his break in Bollywood. He has a theatre experience but has faced rejection and rebuke. The twig that breaks the camel’s back is a rude interaction he has during an impromptu audition that his friend has set up with a producer and an actor. Two personal tragedies later, Shantanu takes the path that’s as jaw-dropping as it’s curious.
What’s Wow: The film’s about Ashutosh Rana, let’s be frank. This guy still has a lot of performances in him and it’s a wonder why nobody signs him up for mainstream. Well, mainstream’s loss could be streaming’s gain. Rana builds the character and portrays him so strongly that he’s far away from any cliché character you’ve seen in recent times. Quite frankly, watch this short film to once again realise what a great performance Ashutosh is. Not just Ashutosh, everyone in the short film gives a good enough performance.
It is Ashutosh’s performance that keeps the short film together. The story line reminds us of the concept typically found in Batman comics, that one bad day can really swing a human being to a life of evil, and Ashutosh brings that concept to the fore.
What’s Blah: While the performance is good, the screenplay is something that lacks convincing power. The main act of the short story, the audition itself, takes place quite unbelievably for someone not conversant with the psyche of people in the film industry. Why would a director sitting with his actor call an aspirant to just bring him down a couple of notches? Insiders will understand that directors and actors do this now and then to blow off steam at shooting locales – but people not conversant with the day to day of the industry will find this puzzling.
Parting Shot: Test Drive is an interesting story and has a powerful performance. It leaves just the right number of questions unanswered to make us wait for another short film that’ll answer them all.
Cast: Ashutosh Rana, Pankaj Karla, Salim Zaidi, Ramsingh Falkoti, Vikrant Krishna, Mrinal Bal, Krishna Shishodia, Rajit Karla, Mohit Arora
Director: Sameer Chand