Tackling the science-fiction genre in your first short feature is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks you can think of when you are a director. The sheer amount of effects alone can be the ultimate test to many, since even seasoned filmmakers swear they will never go “into space” again once they have finished their first feature within the genre. At the same time, the rewards for such an undertaking can be great, especially if the world you create, the atmosphere you establish works well and is unique. Considering the lasting effect of films like “Blade Runner” or “Alien”, there is no doubt a well-done science-fiction film can be quite influential in the world of film and have a lasting effect on many generations of artists.
Perhaps this may have been the starting point for Indian director Sudipto Shankar Roy as he began working on his short feature “The Bounty”. The film tells the story of a bounty hunter who travels to the nuclear wasteland that is now the earth’s surface in search for signs of life. As the sensors of his spaceship detect something, he is surprised by another bounty hunter also eager to score what is presumably a valuable resource. A battle between the two of them begins, and there can only be one winner.
Even though the budget for his film could not have been high, Roy makes the best with what he has. Through the use of effects and costumes, his viewer will have a quick look into a gray world, a place where signs of life have become the most valuable items. At the same time, the two bounty hunters share the same cutthroat mentality which has led the world to complete destruction, resulting in a bitter paradox between killing each other to be rewarded with a symbol for life.
Within the context of India’s film industry, especially young directors like Ilmaz Syed (“Godhulibela”) or Rohitaswa Mukherjee (“Aquarium”), Roy’s film shares the feeling of skepticism for the future. The overall tone of his short feature is dark and pessimistic, which is fittingly summed up in the bleak conclusion of “The Bounty”. In the end, it is not so much about the effects, but about this specific tone, this reminding voice of where we are heading if we do not watch out.
“The Bounty” is a short science-fiction film with a bleak message. Through its tone and look, it achieves a distinct effect on the viewer, highlighting its themes quite effectively.