Real-life couple Rasika Dugal and Mukul Chadda felt the need to break away from the monotony of household chores and hence, they wrote and acted in a short film ‘Banana Bread’, which talks about two neighbours living alone during the lockdown. In an interview to Outlook, they discuss what inspired them to work on this project. Excerpts:
What is the whole idea behind your film ‘Banana Bread’? Is it trying to show loneliness during lockdown?
Rasika: It originated from the idea that how two people who might not have connected in the pre-COVID world, find a reason to put in some effort to connect and know each other because of loneliness caused by the lockdown.
Mukul: The film was born out of the initial conversation that we had because of lockdown and social distancing. And it was also because of the loneliness, as Rasika said. We then explored the idea further and wanted to make it into a film. So, many other themes around this time have found their way into the film.
Other than loneliness, what is the issue that you are trying to convey through the film?
Rasika: The idea was to sort of explore the worlds of two people in the film. These two, both neighbours, didn’t know each other at all. So probably, they didn’t have the time and the eagerness to connect with each other during the pre-covid world. But the loneliness during lockdown made them meet. When we were writing the script, we constantly kept talking about people who essentially live alone. We wanted to explore how they were coping with the situation. The trigger of the story was to explore characters, rather than trying to convey or highlight an issue. We were trying to understand what people living in big cities, alone, were feeling about social distancing and lockdown.
Does the film touch upon mental health also, which is becoming a big issue now?
Mukul: If you write a film honestly, there will be many people who see a lot of finer things, which remain hidden or untold. The film relates to different people in different ways. We were just trying to be true to the characters because lockdown has changed us in so many ways which includes the way we think, behave, work, eat and many other things. And most importantly, the film talks about how people must reach out if they feel that they need help or they are feeling low. It is actually wonderful that people are relating to it in so many different ways and finding a connection to it.
Rasika: I was intrigued by the character of Shruti, which came out because I was worrying a lot about my friends who live alone. So during the first month of the lockdown, I would consciously call all my friends who live alone because I used to keep worrying about how they are managing their daily chores and dealing with the loneliness. I think the film was just an amalgamation of all the conversations that we were having with our friends who were living alone in the city.
What are the things you are doing to stay positive in your real life?
Mukul: We wrote and acted in a film to stay positive (laughs). We are taking out time to watch at least one episode of a series or a film every day.
Rasika: Mukul has been wanting to write for a while. I had this idea, but I really didn’t know how to pen it down. When I used to go on a holiday, I generally came back with a list of ten ideas. But as soon as I returned to Mumbai and started working, all my ideas used to disappear. So, we thought it was a good idea to do a film together and hence we encouraged each other to do this movie on the lockdown. And also, it gave us a little break from the monotonous household chores. Initially, we were just too sincere about household chores. But now we have become experts and have started to figure out shortcuts. I am also utilising the time to take music classes online. My teacher is quite strict and so I have to practice singing every day for at least half an hour.
Why is the film named ‘Banana Bread’? Is it from the banana bread challenge?
Mukul: The film is called Banana Bread because Rasika has been baking it and she was a part of the banana bread brigade. The film shows the time when people are baking bread at home during the lockdown.
Rasika: There is also a scene in the story where Mukul says nice cake, to which I respond, ‘Its banana bread’. This moment kind of highlights the difference between the two characters in the film.
Just curious, how is the Banana Bread different from banana cake? Is it the ingredients that make it different?
Rasika: It is the same thing; banana bread is just a fancier way of saying it. I baked it six-times and every time I made it, it tasted even better. I substituted maida for atta, butter for olive oil and sugar for jaggery to give it a healthy twist.
Mukul: By Rasika’s ‘Banana bread and not cake’ dialogue, we were trying to highlight the differences between the two characters. It shows the differences in their likes and dislikes and yet, they want to be friends because they are feeling lonely because of the lockdown and most probably, had the lockdown not happened, these two neighbours wouldn’t have been friends.