ACF Asian Cinema Fund

Script Development Fund

2022 Script Development Fund

LIST Smart City
Category Asian Project
Project Smart City
Director Rohin RAVEENDRAN
Country India
Director's Profile Rohin Raveendran Nair is an independent filmmaker and cinematographer based out of Mumbai. His recent short film, The Booth (2019), produced by Vikramaditya Motwane (Andolan Films) screened at such festivals as Tallinn Black Nights, the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival (Wales) and won Best Short Film award at Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival (2019). The Booth is currently streaming on MUBI.
Rohin′s one-minute short film, Paijana (2016) won Filminute 2016 - the international one-minute film festival. In 2021, Rohin directed a 60-minute-long brand film called 2024 (2021), for the mobile group, OnePlus, produced by Andolan Films. The film is a dystopian survival drama set in the immediate future: 2024, when a lethal virus wreaks havoc on Mumbai. 2024 is currently streaming in India on Disney+Hotstar.
Having specialized in cinematography from the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Rohin is also a Camerimage Golden Frog nominated cinematographer, for the documentary, Testimony of Ana (2021). Currently, Rohin is developing his debut feature- a psychological horror set in a remote developing city.
During the Covid pandemic, a young man starts eavesdropping through the thin flooring of his new flat on the oddly audible sounds of a family staying a floor below. Soon he hears things that he cannot unhear….

Just a day after moving into a remote developing city, away from his steady girlfriend and aged father, Arun (35), a mall manager, finds himself trapped inside his new flat in a high-rise, as the government invokes a nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dreading lonely days, Arun starts eavesdropping on the family of four? a middle-aged couple and their two daughters, staying a floor below his flat, made possible by the thin flooring of the building. He devices a makeshift listening setup to hear them more clearly, thus soothing his nerves- strained by the lockdown. Arun is particularly drawn towards the voice of the younger daughter, Pallavi (25), a trained classical vocalist. And he gradually starts falling out of love with his girlfriend.
But his foray into this family’s life to quell his loneliness turns into a nightmare when Arun discovers something unnatural going on within the family. The nightmare merges with his own nightmarish past involving his father. It traps not only him but the entire apartment complex into its frenzy as the family, with the matriarch, Renuka (59) at its head, seeps into his life, as it does into the lives of others living there. And with that, him and the others start losing touch with reality, heralded on a journey together toward a non-existent new world, of which, Arun soon finds out, he is the protagonist.
As this journey nears its end, the nightmare becomes worse. Arun ignores the only sane voice that connects him, however tenuously, with reality. He helplessly accepts his role, joining forces with the family and other residents towards an unspeakably horrifying end. That is until that voice of sanity returns and yanks him back to reality, compelling him to stop the wheel of fate, albeit at a great personal expense.
Director's Note
Like countless men and women, I survived the Covid-19 pandemic by remaining holed up inside my apartment in Mumbai while the dread of this virus almost won over my mental faculties. Our flats became like mini-islands cut off from an invisible mainland and this forced detachment from our loved ones made me once again realize that sometimes the things we crave the most could be as simple as seeing the face of one’s mother or being able to attend the funeral of a dear relative, in person.
With Smart City, I wanted to explore the extent to which a young man, cooped up inside his apartment, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, would go to rekindle some connect with humanity, and thus reclaim his mental peace. But in my protagonist Arun’s case, his voyeuristic descend into the affairs of this family living a floor below him, takes him down on a nightmarish journey into the very heart of evil.
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