Director Tarun Dudeja’s latest short film Listener was recently released digitally. It has been selected at various film festivals including International Short film Week in Germany, New York Indian Film Festival, and International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala. Listener, featuring the tale of a storyteller and a listener, is presented by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films – a digital platform. The short film features Kumud Mishra, Shivani Tanksale, Shashank Arora, and Yusuf Hussain.
When asked about the thoughts and inspiration behind Listener, Dudeja says that in 2014 when he was jobless, one of his friends always insisted on going out to drink every day. “Soon I realised that this was a great expense and tried to cancel on our plans. He offered to buy my drinks in exchange for company. When I claimed that I couldn’t drink anymore due to doctor’s orders, he insisted that I come along and drink cold drinks instead. I started wondering why my friend was hell-bent on me accompanying him. That’s when I realised that in all our meetings he would be the one talking while I would just nod along. I wished that he actually paid me for this job. That’s where the spark of the idea for Listener was born,” he explains.
Talking about the choice of cast and choosing Kumund for the role of a listener, he says that he finds him to be a great actor. “I had seen his play Ilhaam at Prithvi Theatre, and I was floored by his performance. I have followed his work ever since. Also when researching about the character of a listener I realised that the listner should be an unknown figure, and people will only open up to him about their problems if he has an adorable personality,” adds Dudeja.
When asked if he thinks that a short film is impactful, he answers, “I believe that a short film can have the same impact as a feature film. I remember when Listener was doing the rounds of the festival circuit I got an email from one of the reviewers of DC International Short Film festival, Washington DC, about how the film had impacted him and made him consciously become a better listener to those around him.”
On the objective of making a short film like Listener, he says, “We have progressed into a world where we do not listen to each other anymore. The thought I wanted to leave behind is that if a deaf man (Kumund in the short film) can listen, why can’t we?” Dudeja has assisted for the film BA Pass. Answering why more and more directors are willing to work in this format (short films), he says that some ideas are best conveyed through a short film, and it’s unnecessary to stretch these ideas to fill a longer time frame. “Moreover, short films can give directors more artistic freedom because there is less of a commercial angle to it,” Dudeja concludes.