Neelima Gudavalli’s Telugu short “Shades of (Baby Pink)” Highlights a Child’s Emotional Intelligence in Response to Distress
Data Scientist and Director Neelima Gudavalli’s Telugu Short “Shades of (Baby Pink)” Shines a Light on a Child’s Emotional Intelligence in Response to Distress
A five-year-old boy misses his parents who returned to the United States, leaving him in the care of his grandparents in India. Her grandmother shows her the map of the world and explains to her that it is not easy for her mother to get back by plane quickly. But soon the boy discovers his own understanding of distance and claims that it is not difficult to overcome it. The 32-minute Telugu short film titled Shades of (baby) pink, directed by debutante Neelima Gudavalli, tells the story of a child struggling with emotional distress.
The film is making its presence felt in the international film festival circuit – shortlisted for the Chicago International Indie Film Festival and the Golden Leaf International Film Festival, won awards at the Port Blair International Film Festival, the Milan Gold Awards and the Golden Leaf International Film Festival, to name a few. Neelima, who hopes to make the film available on a digital platform, is open for development Shades of (baby) pink like an anthology with like-minded filmmakers.
The short film stars the child actor Yashvasin with Jayalalitha, Krishna Manjusha, Srinivas Bhogireddy and Suchith. Shot in Hyderabad in August 2021, the short is the work of a talented team that includes cinematographer Nimish Ravi (best known for his work in the 2019 film Malayalam Luca), editor KSR, production designer Anees Nadodi and sound designer Teja Asgk.
Neelima is a data scientist in a multinational company and divides her time between Hyderabad and Seattle. The idea for this film came to her in early 2020 when she was on a Seattle-India flight: âIt is common to see grandparents bringing children back to India because childcare is expensive and time consuming. is a luxury if both parents are working. in Seattle. Usually, children fall asleep after boarding and wake up during the layover in Dubai. A boy was inconsolable when he woke up and could not find his parents. Neither toys nor her grandmother’s kind words helped. He cried until he fell asleep again. I was moved to tears, âshe recalls.
For days after that, Neelima kept thinking about the boy and began to write a fictional story of a child growing up with caring grandparents and yet facing emotional stress in the absence of his parents.
Neelima says she wanted to be a filmmaker when she was a teenager. But his family believed that a career in cinema, with all its uncertainties, would be risky. She ventured into a business career after an MBA: âI tended to write,â she says, remembering writing some short stories for Visalandhra during her studies, encouraged by her grand- father. âLater in the United States and on my travels to other countries, I frequented museums and art galleries. Everything I had observed subconsciously helped me while planning this film.
The professionalism that manifests itself in Shades of (baby) pink would suggest that she had formally trained in cinema. âI didn’t,â she says, but shares that she has a knack for learning new skills. âI did an MBA, but then I learned coding and worked in a technical team. In writing this film, I was clear on how to tell the story. So not having learned the ropes of screenwriting was no obstacle.
She wrote the script, detailing the camera angles and shooting divisions. She then researched filmmaking online, found the technical terms, and incorporated them into her screenplay. However, a few of the cast and crew were unsure if they could complete the project.
Neelima, meanwhile, had started training the child actor. She did a test shoot as part of the pre-production, to familiarize the actors with their positions in each shot, camera angles and movements. The actors have gained confidence in his abilities.
Against a current
âThe crew gradually gained self-confidence. At first they told me my approach is unconventional, âshe says, explaining how a high angle shot of the child sleeping between his parents was not considered the norm for a family drama. âI have been told that such an angle is used for horror movies. My intention was to show the intimacy that a child feels in the company of his parents.
Online editor Kalyan was among those who were skeptical and subsequently strongly supported his work: âHe and a few others came up with suggestions which I incorporated,â says Neelima. Costume designer Anusha Punjala also lent her support, researching her friends’ boutiques and stores for minimal cost clothing, including the constraints of an independent film.
Shades of (baby) pink was self-funded and shot in six days. Supporters warned Neelima to spend a few lakhs on a short film, but Neelima was adamant. âI felt the story had to be told. Often, families bring young children back to India with the intention of providing them with better facilities. However, children can experience emotional stress in the absence of parents, despite best efforts. We undermine the intelligence with which children can counter adult claims.
Anantha Sriram’s lyrics to Varkey’s music reflect this emotional distress. The film also explores the void faced by seniors when their children have moved to another country.
Shades of (baby) pink is a start. Neelima is eager to continue her cinematic journey.