Sudhanshu Saria's psychological thriller, Knock Knock Knock, will make you reassess your beliefs
The latest release on Mubi India, Knock Knock Knock, narrates the story of two people who are misfits in society because of their pursuit of excellence. Made by filmmaker Sudhanshu Saria (who is known for the critically acclaimed film Loev), Knock Knock Knock is a 40-minute psychological thriller. It features veteran Bengali actor Shantilal Mukherjee and debutant Phuden Sherpa in the lead roles. Shantilal plays dada, a crossword puzzle genius, who is in his late 50s. Dada keeps creating new puzzles and discovering more words, even though not a single work of his is published anywhere. Keta, portrayed by Phuden, is a Nepalese tattoo artist who is obsessed with figuring out the perfect tattoo design for himself and is in his early 20s. Although starkly different from each other, their peculiarities connect the two men.
The narrative focuses on the unlikely and unusual friendship between the two characters. Sudhanshu tells us that his idea for this film came about when he spent time with his father in their hometown, Darjeeling. “There was a period when I actually discovered more about my dad. I realised that although he is an extrovert and a very social person, in reality, he is unwilling to be vulnerable. I figured that growing up meant becoming more guarded. I felt this idea is very antithetical. It wasn’t just about my father but also about people of his generation who share similar values. So even if someone is interested in making friends with them, they turn them down.” With this as the background, Sudhanshu has created a film that sensitively weaves in ideas about friendship, betrayal, mediocrity and loneliness, and highlights the issue of bullying.
Set in Darjeeling, the filmmaker’s story progresses methodically while capturing the quotidian life of the hill station and its people. Sudhanshu was clear he did not want the film to portray the place as a holiday destination, which is usually done in popular cinema. The location it is shot at, Keventer’s cafe, was chosen to fit in with the larger scheme of things of the film. Revealing more about what went into the scripting of the film, he says, “Writing a film like this was like building a puzzle. When you are in the middle of creating one, it doesn’t make any sense because everything in it appears circular.” Sudhanshu invested a year in scripting this film before it went on floors. He explains, “I am someone who makes the film in pre-production and writing this script was an obsessive process.”
The film premiered at the Busan International Film Festival and in Europe at the Tallinn Black Nights Festival in Estonia. It also won the award for Best Screenplay at the New York Indian Film Festival. Sounds play a key role in Knock Knock Knock. Right from the opening visuals where you watch a close-up shot of a fountain pen nib that’s drawing lines, to dada’s nightmares during which he hears distinct sounds of footsteps, the effects add to the impact of the thrilling narrative.
“I work in public spaces, and I wanted to showcase the ability of how you could zone in and out of your space just by selectively choosing the sounds your mind can focus on,” explains the director who roped in renowned production mixer and sound designer Baylon Fonseca (known for films such as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Raees, Rock On, Krissh 3, and numerous documentaries). “This collaboration with Baylon contributed to the language of the film,” adds Sudhanshu who is currently working on Masoom, a one-hour drama for Amazon Prime Video. The filmmaker is also busy with his next project, a feature film titled Truck.