It was not planned, the elevator masterclass, it just happened and then onwards became a ‘thing’, a trend, a mantra hailed by all the students of screenwriting.
Hmm! And what about the professors? They are not a fan, and naturally so, for elevators are too congested a place for a class. Many prefer taking the stairs ever since.
Any-Hooghly-who… this is what happened that fateful day.
But first, please watch this Academy Award winning short animation film, Geri’s Game –
Professor A. R Pillai, cleaning his spectacles, enters the elevator when his students, Deva and Lata, come there rushing.
Sir, sir, sir!! – Lata
Sirrrr!! – Deva
They enter the elevator.
Sir, you said Geri’s Game pulled a masterstroke… crux of your 7-day workshop, sir… – Lata
How-how-how sir? – Deva
Well, think for yourself! Now, chess is a complicated game, more so when you’re playing against yourself, right? – A. R Pillai
The elevator door closes.
Sir, you mean this twist, that Geri is playing against himself… – Lata stops mid-way as Professor A. R Pillai, bespectacled, takes his ‘listen-to-me-now’ stance.
That too, the twist, but also the character, Geri, old chap, more of a caricature, he’s determined, hmm, to play chess, game of chess rules his mind, we see it, we stay with him, you noticed his expressions…? – A. R Pillai
Yes… his expressions! – Deva; gesticulates for emphasis.
Who’ll win, what is happening, what is at stake? Music roars, no not literally, it roars and raises the tension, yet it is lovely, the music, there’s conflict, Geri vs Geri, who’ll win, both are one, yet different, you noticed, one is sober, oldie-goldie types… – A.R Pillai
The one with spectacles, yeah. – Lata
Yes, and the other one is cunning, ‘hah-ha’ he laughs, confident… but a fool, the oldie-goldie fools him, tricks him… right? Ah-ha!! And what is at stake? Well, the beaming denture! Oldie-goldie’s smile, literally, and he wins it back. The end! – A. R Pillai
Right! And no dialogues… – Lata
Sir, because animation tends to… – Deva; his question delays itself on hearing the elevator’s ‘tung-tung’ sound.
The elevator door opens.
Nah! Forget that! See every story as a puzzle piece, if it is well-rounded, it’ll fit well, you know, the viewer senses it and takes it along. – Professor A. R Pillai.
He walks out and says without turning back, ‘Tomorrow, 9 am sharp!’
‘Yes sir, thank you sir’, say Deva and Lata still in the elevator.
Maybe in the rush to express it all (at times, simply to end the conversation) and in the eagerness to know the answers, all minds in the elevator tune-in to a common harmony.
‘Tung-tung-tong’ – comes a sound that interrupts the narrator.
‘What? Is it still… hello?’, says the narrator, then quickly adds, ‘umm, the elevator suddenly stopped working today… huh, seems like this masterclass will go on for a little longer.’