“Why did you unfriend me?”
Many of the films AMP features in the “Sumbit Your Film”section are the first works of a director. Whether a student film or a passion project, the diversity of the films is vast and proves the unique creative mindsets of so many artists working in the medium of film.
However, stepping outside one’s comfort zone and actually make a film requires a lot of courage. No matter how much you have trained, read and planned, the challenge of becoming a filmmaker and sticking with it for a long time is truly difficult. At least, this is the way Indian director Abhilash Shetty describes his decision to follow his dream and give up a secure corporate job on his IMDB page. Given the critical acclaim his first short feature “Crony” has earned over the years, the decision certainly was not wrong and has encouraged him to write and direct more shorts as well as a feature film he is currently working on.
In “Crony” a young man named Aarav (Shetty) undergoes preparations for lazy day hanging out in his apartment. Just as he is finished with rolling up a joint, a reminder on Facebook about the birthday of Ricky (Sunil J Ambore), a former friend, distracts him. In a phone call with another friend he remembers the times the three of them had together and how it all came to an end eventually. When he decides to finally unfriend Ricky, strange events start happening and he is haunted by what appears to be his friend’s spirit wanting to take revenge for this betrayal of their friendship.
Generally speaking, the act of “unfriending”someone has become one of the most interesting links between the two realities of digital media and our world. Apart from the devaluation of the term “friend”, the concept of friendship has been undermined to a certain degree, resulting in the almost stereotypical image of the isolated person in front of one or various screens. Fittingly, this image is the starting point of Shetty’s film along with the potential ghosts created by the machine and its creator.
Using a minimalist setting and effective sound design, the atmosphere of “Crony” is claustrophobic from the start. Consequently, the film explores the feelings of guilt and anxiety which go along with the concept of ending a friendship, the potential pitfalls and reflections of betrayal. Since the audience does not know what truly happened between the three friends, the repeated image of Ricky is similar to the sound of the beating heart in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”.
In the end, “Crony” is an interesting and well-executed short film, which displays the talent and passion of its director. Utilizing a limited space and budget to full effect is one of the core skills a filmmaker should have at the start of his/her career and Shetty, along with cinematographer Guru Kaup, make a fine job of creating a haunting tale about social anxiety and betrayal.