Evening Gush, a horror short film directed by young Assamese filmmaker Xahid Khan, has been selected for the Horror Lust Film Festival 2021.
Xahid Khan has previously directed films like Sand: The Love Without Trust, Alert-Condition: Red, and Mistake.
For Alert- Condition: Red, Xahid Khan received international recognitions and won several awards including that for the Best Film and Best Director.
The movie, in fact, was the semi-finalist at the Academy Awards Qualifying Film Festival “Best of Short Film Festival, Los Angles”.
Partha: When did the bug of filmmaking bite you?
Xahid: I guess I was attracted to the art right from my childhood when I started watching films, but the consciousness came later after finishing school.
Partha: What's tougher- the start or the continuation?
Xahid: From the financial point of view, for someone who comes from a middle-class family like me, I think both are tough because filmmaking is truly an expensive way of expression.
But yes continuation is always tougher because once the audience loves you and you gain their faith, then you can’t let that go. One wrong move and you vanish! You need to be always extra guarded with what you do.
Partha: What has changed from your first directional venture to your recent one?
Xahid: I learned many things. I am developing in terms of directional skills, writings and the approach of making films. It’s a never-ending learning process.
Partha: Tell something about Evening Gush- your latest film
Xahid: Evening Gush about two girls- Madhusmita and Nilakshi- who live together at a rented apartment in Guwahati.
One day Madhusmita gets a call from Nilakshi’s number and a male voice from the opposite end tells her that Nilakshi met with an accident.
However, Madhusmita goes fanatical on hearing this as Madhusmita was right in front of her when the call came.
Partha: What attracted you to make a horror film
Xahid: Honestly speaking, Evening Gush is not precisely a horror-kind-of a horror film. I wanted to convey my thoughts as to what happens to the soul immediately after a person dies. It may or may not scare you but... sad feelings... perhaps.
Partha: How was the story conceived?
Xahid: It’s developed from Newton’s first law of motion which says that 'an object at rest remains at rest, or if in motion remains in motion unless acted on by a net external force'.
Partha: Why Evening Gush? What's the story behind the name?
Xahid: I do a lot of brainstorming and take time before I finalise the title of my films. Since the title of the film is the first thing that people sees, hence I feel it should be attractive enough to pull the attention of the public.
As I was working on the title, suddenly I remind the river and the sea came to my mind.
Every evening, the water level of the sea or a river increases and it goes down slowly in the morning. Gush is the word I found in the dictionary which means the rapid stream.
Taking the two words- evening and gush- I named my film. The title is very pertinent to the story.
Partha: Tell something about the crew and the actors
Xahid: Most of the production team members are new but they never let me feel it even for once.
Prit Baruah- the cinematographer and assistant director Hiru Borgohain have done absolutely wonderful job.
Jureen Mahanta and Nilakshi Kalita are two bright actors and they gave their best in their respective roles. Even though are freshers, however, you won't feel it. They are extremely expressive.
The post-production team is extremely professional and successful in their respective field.
The film has been edited by Jitu Ray- who has even edited my previous two films as well.
Bhaskar Medhi has composed the background score, while Mumbai-based award-winning sound designer Jyoti Chetia has designed the sound for the film.
Chetia has worked in several Bollywood hits like Sanju, Raman Raghav 2.0, Mirzapur, Ludo etc. I am very fortunate to have such a team.
Partha: How did you manage to get the best out of the actors?
Xahid: Freedom! I don’t bound them to say the exacts words from the script. I tell them to say a few sentences replacing the existing dialogues, which they are comfortable with.
When they come with new sentences, I just check their facial expression and body language and if I feel it will not change the sense of the film, I keep it.
That way it becomes more natural in terms of acting and comfortable for the actors. I give them enough time and space to rehearse.
Partha: Tell about the VFX techniques used to establish the creepiness of the film
Xahid: The movie has no high-quality VFX and it doesn't have those generic elements of a horror film that require CGI or VFX.
Partha: What makes a film great for you?
Xahid: Content. It’s what you offer to the audience.
Partha: Tell something about your film making process
Xahid: Traditional, as other filmmakers do. Pre-production, production and post-production.
Partha: Who has been your inspirations
Xahid: If who, I really don’t think there is anybody who inspired me but if you ask what was your inspiration to be a filmmaker then the answer will be the mistakes of other films ( mistakes according to me) I watched in childhood, those really inspired me to be a filmmaker and make films as I wish to make!
Partha: Are you open to collaboration?
Xahid: Yes, always. If the (collaborator) ideas strike me.
Partha: What are your future projects?
Xahid: In March 2021 I will be starting the shoot for my next short film Pins & Needle.
Apart from this, I am also thinking about two other projects- The Wild Avenue, and Unnamed.
Then I will try to head towards making a feature film.
Partha Prawal: Any words for the budding actor and filmmakers
Xahid Khan: I am also a budding filmmaker, so what can I say! Well, all I would say is that one must always have faith in oneself and keep working an developing.
One should not shy to show one's works to friends, family, well-wishers and public or any professional.
One should always try to be in touch with professionals and try to learn from them.
People will try dragging you down, call names, and even they will judge you. Don’t amuse them instead focus on the spot which you see is brighter.
Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.