S'porean student wins Indian film award

V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR

Singaporean Eka Shukla , a Grade 2 student at the Global Indian International School in Punggol, has won the Best Child Actor award at the Ahmedabad International Children's Film Festival (AICFF).

The eight-year-old played the role of Mini in the seven-minute film of the same name, which was shot over three weekends in late June and early July in Singapore.

The AICFF is one of the few film festivals focused on children in India. This year it chose 60 narrative films and four documentary films to be part of its official selection.

The selected films were screened virtually on Dec 18 and 19 on the AICFF YouTube channel.

"Her acting, body language, dialogues, facial expression - everything excelled," said Mr Chetan Chauhan, the founder of AICFF. "It was a very tough competition."

Members of the jury included film director Manish Saini and actress Aarti Patel.

"I feel very good. It was fun working with (director) Uma chechi and (director of photography) Remya aunty," said Eka, who had previously played minor roles in films such as Kathaah@8, Vesta and Stuck at Home.

"Now I want to act in a thousand more movies."

Mini, in English, follows the little adventures of a girl as she pursues her passion to solve mysteries.

It is one of eight short films initiated by Black Dabba Productions and The Navya Project to nurture independent filmmaking talent in Singapore.

Singapore-based part-time actress Aishwarya Kumar plays Eka's mother, while Shivanu Shukla is the father and Kabir Khanna her friend.

Mini's script was written by Shilpa Krishnan Shukla, who was inspired by her daughter Eka's fascination for mysteries and thrillers and love to play "detective" with her friends.

Uma Kalyani, a 23-year-old Singapore permanent resident who has a BSc (Honours) in Forensic Science and works at a shipping and logistics firm, and Remya Warrier, 34, a Dependant Pass holder and a wildlife photographer, made their film debut as director and director of photography respectively.

"To me this award is a true honour, especially as it was my debut as a director," said Uma.

"I am glad that Eka's talent has been recognised.

"Eka is a very smart actor - she's able to pick up emotions and nuances pretty quickly, so it was rather easy working with her.

"The whole experience was terrifying but exhilarating - like riding a roller coaster.

"I say terrifying because it is a lot of responsibility and you have to be very meticulous.

"I had a really great support team, so whenever I needed help, there were people to turn to."

Mini will be officially released after all the eight films under the Black Dabba Productions and The Navya Project are completed early next year.

santosh@sph.com.sg

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