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An accident of a dear one made Abhay Kumar shoot Placebo. "The accident took me to one of India's foremost educational institutes and made me question what was driving some of the country's most brilliant minds to press the self-destruct button," says Kumar, the director.
Placebo, therefore, follows four individuals (whose identity will remain undisclosed) from the institution for over a year across India in order to map their mindspace. "These four guys, with very different approaches towards life, volunteered for this social experiment. With this, I try to understand the pressures faced by some of the country's best minds," Kumar says of the documentary that uses fiction and animation in its narrative style.
The director refuses to divulge more about the project because "the film is still being shot and I am unsure of the way it will shape up on the editing table". However, Kumar — whose 2011 short film Just That Sort Of A Day won at the Busan International Short Film Festival 2011 and the National Award for best narration in a non-feature film in 2012 — has already managed to get on board Anurag Kashyap's production house, Anurag Kashyap Films Private Limited (AKFPL).
Placebo, incidentally, is the first documentary project AKFPL is backing. "Anurag found out about Placebo through my associate director, Archana Phadke. He had already watched and liked our previous works and expressed curiousity regarding the current project. When we showed him the promotion and some raw footage, he was confident enough to come on board to represent the film," says Kumar. Music director Loy Mendonsa's son Shane Mendonsa is composing for Placebo.
After Kashyap came on board, the film has applied for crowd funding in both India (Rs 10 lakh) and internationally ($40,000). Kumar hopes the AKFPL brand will help them generate money to complete the film. He has, however, often been asked why Kashyap hasn't contributed financially. "I don't expect them to put in that big an amount without being sure how to recover it," explains Kumar. "They will help us with resources during the post-production stages. Regardless, their backing means a lot since they are recognised internationally. Their name has helped us get our foot in the door and more people are willing to associate with us."