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48 Hours: Ritendra Datta’s ‘Fortune Seller’ has a Hitchcockian Flair and a Perplexing Ending

48 Hours: Ritendra Datta’s ‘Fortune Seller’ has a Hitchcockian Flair and a Perplexing Ending

  • The short film shot in two days in San Jose Film Project challenge gets an A for effort.

In November 2021, Ritendra Datta of Short Cut Productions (a California-based filmmaking production team) participated in a 48 hours challenge/Film Project in San Jose. It is a 7-minute short film, called “Fortune Seller.” They had six actors and one crew member, and everything had to be done within 48 hours. 

The competition was tough. The production team could not plan ahead because they received the topic a few minutes before the starting point. They had to include a specific genre (time travel), a specific character, and use specific dialog in the film. 

I watched the short film. It is an interesting social topic even though several films have addressed it in the past. Everyone is interested in knowing about their future and fortunes. Fortune telling is not an exact science and involves a lot of ESP, intuition and mambo-jumbo. 

The film has a catchy beginning, a woman named Nisha is waiting in the lobby of the soothsayer under a cryptic black and white framed portrait of a woman. The lighting is hazy, creating a mysterious atmosphere. 

The fortune seller appears authentic in her gypsy garb and a faraway look in her eyes. She interviews clients with her assistant. They receive their fortune in the form of a ‘fortune cookie.’ Most of the predictions are incomprehensible but the clients have good outcomes. Until they don’t. That’s the plot twist. 

Something surreal happens. Dark and unfortunate. Is the fortune seller responsible or is someone else carrying on heinous crimes? Do people stop coming to seek out their fortunes? Is there a big reveal? 

I tried to watch the climax and ending two or three times but I didn’t quite understand what the filmmakers were trying to convey? Perhaps the vague ending was intentional. Was it something extraterrestrial, deja vu, sci-fi or black magic? 

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I have not watched other entries submitted to this 48 hours film project so I cannot compare this short with other films but it did pique my interest. The actors have an other-worldly look. The cinematography is engaging, in step with the curious narrative. It has a sort of Alfred Hitchcock-like feel to it. I am tempted to give an A for effort.

As a wise person once said: “Fortune is not always set in stone but lady luck favors the bold.”

With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, and essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.

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