‘What happens when you push a man to his limit’ is the underlying theme of Ashutosh Rana’s You Tube short film Test Drive (Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films), which has recently hit the digital airwaves.
As this entire 25 minute film is based on one man‘s performance and reactions, the plot needed someone with great emotional repertoire and the makers (director Sameer Chand) could not have zeroed in on anyone else better than Rana.
Ashutosh brings out with élan all the emotions of a struggling actor. He constantly faces humiliation at home (nagging wife dumps him) and at auditions, yet keeps at it with a smile. Every person has one anchor in life and once that person is gone, you get unhinged and this is precisely what happens to Ashutosh’s character Shantanu as well when his Guru passes away .
The scene where an arrogant producer even drags Shantanu‘s dear departed mother in the fray, is pathos at its best. What stands out is Ashutosh’s display of the above frustration in a controlled manner; also the climax rage is smartly underplayed, giving it a different dark touch.
Again, full marks to Ashutosh for emoting body language of someone who has not lost hope in the face of adversity. It does appear cocky but human nature is never black or white, rather grey.
Having said that, we believe that the end message is abrupt. There’s no mention of consequences which every such action brings. Shantanu obviously does not have the wherewithal to get away with what he does (do watch to find out what and why).
Furthermore, what does he achieve by his actions? He is still a struggler at the end. The swagger in which he brushes his hair and throws the keys away in the end indicates nonchalance. The title is interesting for he does borrow/ steal the car for a ride. We believe a positive message in the end would have better served the social purpose of inspiring actors to stay the hard course the right way.
Shorts these days serve a double role of being effective storytelling device and also as a means of cathartic pouring of expressions which seasoned actors are unable to do in normal films.
IndianWikiMedia would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.