ciNE65 Winners - Interview with Don Aravind of 'Vote'

Overall Jury’s Choice Best Direction, Jury’s Choice Best Screenplay for the Open category of ciNE65 Short Film Competition Season Three. We speak to director Don Aravind to gather some starting inspirations and reflections on responses to the film.

1. What were the starting inspirations for this particular story? 

I wanted a film that would stand out narratively in relation to the competition's theme BELIEVING HOME. We live in such a diversified social fabric and I wanted to illustrate the not very "beautiful" side of it. However, it had to be compelling and convincing. A close friend of mine stays in public rental housing and after several visits to her neighbourhood, there was a stronger need to write a story. After several discussions and visits to an old estate with my team member and screenwriter Wei Ting, we were more than inspired to create a story based on En Bloc. But the downside, we knew we were standing a low chance of winning the competition. 

2. Why the choice for an interracial casting? 

N. Anjalai played the character of Pushpa in the film. Anjalai is full ethnic Chinese who was raised in an Indian Tamil speaking family. Hence, her mother tongue was Tamil. I only had her in mind to play the role of "Pushpa" and no one else. So I would say it was an unconscious decision that an "inter-racial" casting existed. It was only at the edit stage did I realise that it had an additional layer. It was an accident. I never thought much of it until some audience came up and commented on my casting. 

3. What are some responses to the film, and what are your thoughts on the film after the win?

Tough question, so far generally very good feedback and some very shocking comments. Most surprising one would have been that it was labelled a 'political film'. Some commented that it was bold and compelling and some said it was not a film meant for Cine65 as it wasn't nationalistic enough. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much for the film. I was itching so badly to do a short film and needed a strong reason to do so, the competition came as a platform to sacrifice and take some leave of my regular job which was television. I can only thank the many people including my team mates, Kang Sheng and Wei Ting who came aboard for nothing but the love and desire of doing a good film. Special thanks to my editor Shantha Kumar and my friend Vel Murugan who had shed so much light and aided me along the way.

4. What is your next project?

I'm writing two short films now and hope to do them by the end of next year. 
Interview by Isabella
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