India / 23 minutes / color with a little bw / ESMM Dir & Cine: Prakhar Sharma Scr: Aarav Yadav, Prakhar Sharma Cast: Akash Kapur, Shiva Sharma, Anurag Sah, Karan Surana, Ishan Agrawal.
A mysterious undercover operative (Sharma) arrives in Chennai and receives instructions to contact Akash Kapur (Kapur), a geeky physics student at the city’s Orbit University. This he duly does, eventually persuading the friendless youth that his professor in nuclear physics, Srinivasan (Sah), is an ex-Indian government scientist who stole some nuclear secrets to auction off to the highest bidder. What those secrets actually are is not especially significant; the real prize is the list that Srinivasan must have somewhere of the details of the auction bidders. It’s this list that the operative charges Akash to find.
The undercover operative gets his instructions.
A much later recap of the undercover operative (Shiva Sharma) getting his instructions.
Akash asks, naturally enough, why the operative’s so sure he won’t give the game away by telling someone what’s going on. The operative tells him with cruel truth that the reason he’s so trustworthy is that “You’ve got no one to tell.”
So Akash does his not very good best to locate the all-important list. Meanwhile, the operative guards his back—and, as a bonus, deals with the jockish kids who’ve been bullying him because of his nerdishness.
Akash (Akash Kapur) hunts for the list.
It’s by no means an earthshaking paradigm shift when we discover the undercover operative isn’t an Indian government agent after all. It’s what we’ve been expecting. Except that, in a final scene, the two real Indian government agents (Surana, Agrawal) who’ve stepped in to clear the situation up and, incidentally, save Akash’s bacon, tell him they’re not worried he might tell anyone of their involvement because, after all, he has no one to tell. And at this point we have to reappraise our assumptions concerning what has gone before . . .
A mysterious figure (Ishan Agrawal) is caught surveilling Akash and the operative.
One operative (Karan Surana) explains the “truth” to Akash as another (Ishan Agrawal) looks on.
The List has all the hallmarks of a student movie, and my guess is it probably was. Like so many student movies it gives the impression of having been done as an exercise, as if to demonstrate abilities in direction, cinematography, etc., rather than offer a completely satisfying, integrated piece. I found it very intriguing nonetheless. That kicker at the end—are they really who they say they are, any more than the earlier guy was?—had me thinking: pleasingly, it was a couple of minutes after I’d finished watching the movie that the implications of those final seconds suddenly hit me.
Sah’s completely convincing as the prof, Kapur good as the susceptible teen. The rest of the cast are perhaps a tad less secure, but no one even approaches the embarrassing. All in all, it’s a nice ensemble piece.
Anurag Sah nails the role of Srinivasan.
I think I got this from the always interesting Pocket Films channel on YouTube but, if I did, it’s gone from there now. That’s a shame. If you find it anywhere else, I’d be grateful if you could put a link in the comments.