Published: 12th October 2018
Director Anupam Patnaik's Panic Shorts is a horror web series you just can't watch alone
In a bid to provide new age Odia content, Amiya Ranjan Patnaik Productions has launched its digital wing, which is being helmed by Anupam Patnaik. And their first offering, Panic Shorts, is as thrilli
There's nothing like a horror film done right. Not with the usual heightened background score or those predictable jump scares, but the real spooky kind. Watching Panic Shorts truly gave us the chills. And one must note that Panic Shorts has a lot of firsts to its credit. It's one of the first anthology horror web series in Odia, with each episode not more than 20-minutes-long. It is also the first project of TechnoArt Productionz, the recently launched digital wing of Amiya Ranjan Patnaik Productions, the same legendary production house that gave us the National Award-winning movie Hakim Babu and more recently, Tulasi Apa, which bagged several state awards. The horror web series is being directed by Anupam Patnaik, son of director Amiya Ranjan Patnaik. "With the rise of digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, we wanted to create our own digital presence too," says the enthusiastic director who produced Tulasi Apa. But taking up a horror series as their very first project? Quite risky, isn't it? "I feel that horror and thriller are my genres. I don't care if it's difficult or risky, as long as it excites me, it will do," says Patnaik.
All in this together: Alongside Barsha Nayak, a few other TV actors and new artists came together to shoot the film
Making of a short
Initially, Patnaik did try to pitch Panic Shorts to other more active production houses, but now, he feels like it was destined to be launched under their new digital wing. Come to think of it, it was a good move, seeing how everyone is glued to their phones, watching films on it rather than taking themselves to a cinema hall. Because Amiya Ranjan Patnaik Productions is a traditional production house, it was hard for Patnaik to convince technicians and artists, who have been associated with them for a very long time, to go digital. But when five minds brainstormed over the script — Anupam Patnaik, Barsha Nayak (Patnaik's wife who plays the protagonist in Tulasi Apa), writer Roshan Bisoi, creative writer Ankit Ray and Bijay Raul — it began to fall into place.
The cast and crew used to wake up at 5 am to shoot, keeping in mind productions costs. But all their efforts came together beautifully, says Patnaik
With a crew of fewer than ten people and artists who would bring their own costumes and do their own makeup, these five episodes were shot on a DSLR camera. While the series was shot in June, the post-production took up to three months. When the poster was out, Patnaik did note that some people did not find it “scary enough, mostly because the audience is used to associating ghosts with a horror movie. But that is the point, claims Patnaik and tells us about how the first episode is just a conversation between two people, one who doesn't believe in ghosts and the other who does. And yet, is spooky enough to send a chill down your spine. And if you are excited, like we are, they already have more films lined up, each of them from a different genre. While the next could be a family drama, one can also expect comedy sketches in Odia.
Spooky affair: A still from Panic Shorts
What plagues us
The greatest predicament of the Odia film industry today, as per Patnaik, is that there is a shortage of theatres and most screens are dominated by Hindi movies. The quality of Odia films has certainly gone down, he says. Speaking from personal experience, he points out how though Tulasi Apa was a hit, it lasted in Inox for only a month and in a few single-screen theatres, it did not even complete a day. "The point is also about quality. If Village Rockstars can come out of the Assamese film industry and be chosen as India's official entry into the Oscars, why can't we aspire for the same?" he asks. And in a quest to produce fresh content that appeals to most, they want to reach out to new artists — writers, actors, directors and others. "If anyone wants to watch or make quality content, just give us a shout out," he says and concludes.
First of many: The first episode of Panic Shorts
On their second The second episode of Panic Shorts
For more on him, click on facebook.com/patnaik.