Shweta Basu on short ‘Yatri Kripya Dhyan De’

By Express News Service

A man picks up a hitchhiker in the snaky foothills of Munnar. They get talking about cars, and, from there on, ghosts. The girl, though cool and inscrutable at first, gets increasingly agitated. The guy starts flipping out. We could be watching a horror, a thriller, a slasher… or the worst kind of road awareness video.

“It’s always nice to keep the audience guessing,” says Shweta Basu Prasad, who stars as the mysterious passenger in the Amazon miniTV short film, Yatri Kripya Dhyan De. Directed by Abhinav Singh, the film is a simple man-woman yarn in a car, without narrative fuss or excessive layering. It ends on a twist—threadbare yet oddly effective.

“The film is like a snappy elevator ride,” Shweta explains. “By the time you are out, you’ve watched a fun story.” Having never explored theatre, she enjoyed the talky escalation with co-star Shaheer Sheikh. They shot for a week in the cool Kerala weather.

With covid restrictions in place, the roads were easily managed, with “the beautiful tea estate workers in the background.” Instructions were relayed on walkie-talkies. There was no incident or slip up. “Shaheer is a good driver so I just had to sit and chill and do my lines,” Shweta laughs.

Yatri Kripya Dhyan De chimes with another Shweta performance, in the Netflix anthology Ray. Her character, Maggie, a bespectacled office girl, provides the final twist of Srijit Mukerji’s Forget Me Not. In both films, a privileged man is made to face the negligence of his past.

Shweta feels the idea of the ‘femme fatale’ or female antagonist is gradually evolving in Hindi cinema. “Take Tabu’s character in an Andhadhun, or Shabana Azmi in my first film Makdee. Or even Urmila in Bhoot. But generally speaking, it’s a slow change. It’s not a remarkable change.” Last word, favourite car movie? “Cars (laughs). I’m yet to catch Titane.”

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