There is always a story to be told behind everything there is. If there isn’t one, then it doesn’t exist, and it’s simply because it doesn’t exist that it doesn’t have a story! Aura tells stories, it’s as simple as that. A group of storytellers, who see the depth behind the most shallow-seeming things that are, and who create the simplest yet most profound connections to every event in our lives. This year was the toughest year the world has ever seen, there’s very little debate in that. For us, we learnt to adapt to change and thrive in the environment; and in the process, hopefully discovered a little bit of ourselves.
We still remember February 2020, when we were running around for permission to go and participate in at least 2 competitions a week throughout Mumbai. The evenings were spent in rehearsals (and assignments of course) and the mornings were spent in other colleges for competitions, and being visiting critics of their canteen food.
Then, you-know-what happened, and our beloved street play was taken from us. The street play, which was so pure a form of dramatics, which our whole team had grown so fond of, and which was the medium that etched our names in the minds of audiences everywhere, was taken from us. We found ourselves at home, often creating theatrics in the most mundane activities like filling a glass of water, or sitting for online lectures (or sometimes even going to bed). We kept having regular meetings where we’d get together for bouncing off ideas to keep the social media handle active, and after the point where the India’s subscription to lockdown was renewed 3 times for periods of 14 days each, we decided to get together and chart out our objectives if this period extended into the infinite (and here we are).
The first few months, and “Stage Solos”
After charting out everything systematically, we decided the first step was to show the world our recorded live mono-act performances! The release of “Stage Solos” was met with great anticipation, and over the month we released not one, not two, but four stellar mono-acts performed by our actors. The performances received great responses, with positive reviews on the acting and writing of the acts!
While we were just getting started with the big virtual journey, the sudden demise of Irrfan sir and Rishi sir left us shocked. We strive to be worthy of carrying the art form that they so passionately pioneered in their eras.
As periods of boredom set in the houses of the team members, we started getting more creative in the kitchen. With hopes of college reopening soon, our street play's writing process was full speed ahead (but here we are hahahahaha!)
Come mid-June, one of our writers wrote a script, set in the premise of a home and a video call among a few friends. As a first for us, we also had an original song in the film, which was written, sung and composed by members of the team. Here it’s fun to note that our rooms became recording studios with towels covering gaps, closed windows, and switched-off fans. We were adapting, and the great amount of talent and creativity of our team was being put to good use!
“Hasi” was released to audiences on 5th July, to much excitement. The simple premise, powerful writing, and relevance of “Hasi” made it a success among our audience. While cases were on the rise, and news flashes came every day, the social evil of domestic violence was thrown light on, in this film. More than anything, “Hasi” made us proud because it was our first lockdown short film. Through this beautiful and tiring journey, all the actors became cinematographers, directors and foley artists!
Cause of the Month
It would be wrong if we said that we missed street plays. The performers in us were yearning for expression, and we couldn’t stand sitting all day at home without doing something about things that need to be addressed. So we did the next best thing! While selecting a street play topic every year, numerous topics come up and are debated and discussed but only one gets a street play dedicated to it. We decided that we take our audience on the whole back-end homework of making a street play, by taking up topics and understanding them by systematically breaking them down. We would break down the prevailing issue in simple terms, explain why we need to resolve it, and then provide easy-to-implement solutions for the same! We would engage our audience every month with a new relevant issue to educate on.
The world sees our famous street plays!
The time was right to release our much-coveted street plays! With proper movie-style promotional strategies, complete with posters and trailers, we released our street plays, “Prem Kahani” (2019-2020) and “Khoya Bachpan” (2017-2019) to our audience. This was an exciting time for all of us, because we’ve always held our identity to our street play, and we finally decided to release it on YouTube for everyone to see. Both the plays were met with admirable responses and shared largely through our network of friends and family!
In the most large-scale project we have undertaken, we roped in a whopping 65+ other students from our college for the next big thing. Prateek Kuhad’s “Kasoor” music video had brought tears to our eyes and filled our hearts with joy, so we decided to do a DJSCE edition of it. Coming at a time when all of us were missing our friends, college exploits, lectures, practicals and canteen, “Kasoor X DJSCE” has been the highest viewed project of the team. With personalised questions that everyone reminisced about, personalised lyrics that the whole college was swaying to, and vocals by one of our talented actors, “Kasoor X DJSCE” was nothing less than a spectacle. The team reached out to the students, explained to them how they were going to be a part of our next project and reviewed countless minutes of footage to make it look like how it is now. The editors were put through a thorough test (which they passed with flying colours) when they sat down to make magic with all the collected footage.
While “Kasoor X DJSCE” was still gaining views (we touched almost 14k on Instagram!), we decided to venture to comedy writing and acting in the form of short, witty sketches. Our sketches “Debate Night with Aurnoob” and “If these celebrities attended online lectures” cracked our audience up with laughter! The relevance of characters, on-point acting and spot-on sound effects made a great formula for a good sketch!
When our semester was wrapping up, we submitted our short film “Hasi” for Mithibai’s Kshitij short film competition. To our great delight, we made it into the finals (top 10) of the competition, where we were to submit a new short film! We fleshed out a script during the exams, and as soon as the last paper ended, the team committed to making another great film. After 2 hectic days of shooting, 4 sleepless nights of editing, multiple trials for making a background score and a whole lot of reviewing, we submitted “Stuck” for the finals. Unfortunately, we didn’t land a podium finish, but the competition was worth watching! We learned a lot from our competitors!
Next, we decided to release it on YouTube for our audience. Amidst a buzz created by our poster and trailer, we released arguably the best Aura film till date. We followed our film premiere with a live Q and A session on Instagram, where people excitedly asked questions to understand the process of film-making better.
With the even semester coming, we are enthusiastic to make more mono-acts and short films to submit in the upcoming college festivals, and to put up many sketches on our social media page! This past year had its lows, but with the new year, we’re looking to create a legacy that keeps us alive in the hearts of our audience as the team that made them laugh and learn.
And as the saying goes, “Aura Kayam Rahe!”