Strolling along the beaches can be an enjoyable experience, as much of an eye sore. The once pristine stretches of sand are laden with heaps of garbage, and chunks of coveted sea-facing views with high-rise concrete monstrosities have led to environmental degradation along the coast. Recently, at the International Film Festival of India, the winning short film Odh, part of the Creative Minds of Tomorrow category, creatively addressed the issue of receding beaches in Goa through impactful storytelling.
Director of the winning short film, Goa-born Akhil Lotlikar, also a student at FTII, Pune, shared, “My experience with Creative Minds of Tomorrow was fantastic. When I read the story for the first time, I realised it was an impactful story. The writer had a unique way of portraying encroachment. The subject was personal because I am a resident of Goa, and I stay quite close to the beach. I would go for a run almost every day. Over the years, I’ve seen the effects of how industrialisation has been affecting the environment. When I read the script, it instantly connected to me since I’ve seen it first-hand.”
The narration follows the plight of a local fisherman who finds no place to park his boat on the beach and resorts to hauling his boat into the city. The film highlights the issues of receding beach lines in Goa due to rising sea levels and mass construction. “The film,” Lotlikar feels, “is not only restricted to the receding shoreline. I think we have to be diligent in how we use our resources. We must prioritise how we see ourselves in the long-term rather than the short term.”
With just 48 hours to complete planning, casting, shooting, and editing the film, the team of 15 chose outdoor locations around Adil Shah Palace in the State’s capital, Panjim, and Siridao Beach on the outskirts of the city. Challenges were plenty since they shot outdoors with limited resources. “We were dependent on the sun and used natural light to shoot during the film,” he explains.
Traffic in the city posed an additional issue. “We were getting a lot of background sounds from the passing vehicles. We had to take multiple retakes to eliminate these disturbances.”
The 48-hour challenge was a test of time management and resources. Lotliker says, “Everyone was on their toes and there was no concept of rest those days. Division of roles was done prior, as many were working on a set for the first time.”
Due to limited time, they planned their post-production time before the shoot. “The editor began working immediately after the first day we went on location. Time management was a critical aspect,” he aspect.
The Navelim-born student of FTII, Pune’s, one-year Diploma in Direction course, pursued his passion for film post his engineering course. “I was inclined to films since school. It was during my engineering, I applied for FTI, Pune, and I got in,” he said.
As far as Goan filmmakers are concerned, he feels there’s a lot of hidden potential. “Goan filmmakers need a lot of recognition because there is a lot of talent in Goa. We need our voices to be heard. At this stage, there is much more content from Goa published on an international scale. It needs more impetus, and people need to be aware of our talent,” he concludes.