The world of Synergy International School is not the world of Karan Johar’s St Teresa in Student of the Year. But neither is it your random neighbourhood school.
In debutante director Rikhil Bahadur’s film, Time Out, Synergy is the kind of school that US college aspirants from upwardly mobile families and homes in the national capital’s posher localities attend. Here, classes give way to games at the basketball court as students cheer the home team as it takes on a rival school, and a new student’s ticket to acceptance as part of the ‘cool’ gang is her drum-playing abilities. It is a world that is believable, even for those who aren’t a part of it.
These are characters that you meet at the mall, the movie theatre and at a restaurant table beside your own, if not at school, college or apartment block — the sport star who is the school heartthrob, the cute brother with potential for future star status who hero-worships him, the girl who is the object of his secret crush, the cool dad, the always-busy mum, and their gang of fun and loyal friends.
You might like to dismiss them as rich kids in their insulated, privileged cocoon. But at its core, Time Out is a slice-of-life story about a family and two boys — brothers and the coming of age of their bond as they weather life’s upheavals together. It’s a story of friendship and changing mindsets. "In 2011, I had made a short film of the same name and subject as part of my graduation project. The film received warm appreciation everywhere it was screened including at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and about 25 other international film festivals. Everyone who saw the film felt that it had the potential to be made into a longer feature film and that encouraged me to develop it as a full-fledged movie," explains Rikhil.
Once he had decided to make the movie into a full-length one, Rikhil approached Shachi Sharma, who was working as a writer at that point of time. Shachi came on board first as a script supervisor and then became co-producer for the film. Together they formed the company Aexor Entertainment.
Much of the credit in making the movie believable goes to the ensemble cast, and here Rikhil was picky, taking in actors who had knowledge of the kind of sports or music that the character demanded. Pranay Pachauri and Chirag Malhotra are endearing as siblings and show promise as actors. They are ably supported by Kaamya Sharma, Vedabrata Rao, Tarana Marwah, Sanya Arora, Raunaq Chopra, Aditya Jain, Shiva Dawar and Riya Kothari.
The film has been produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures, a company that Rikhil and Shachi say are "extremely supportive with content-driven cinema". Time Out is tentatively scheduled for release in September. When it does, parents might want to watch it with their teenaged children. It will make both more comfortable addressing growing up issues that, in India, often remain unaddressed due to social discomfort and the sorry excuse of ‘generation gap’.