Dr Chetan Kotabage is an Assistant Professor in Physics at the KLS Gogte Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India. He submitted the shortlisted film The Guardian – a live-action tale of a love triangle with a quantum twist. Here’s the backstory:
WATCH THE FILM FIRST!
How did you come up with the storyline?
I have been teaching quantum mechanics, and when I teach it, I tell students about the wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle. While elaborating on the uncertainty principle, I tell them that the wave-particle duality has been protected by the uncertainty principle. It’s a very simple concept on which the entire structure of quantum mechanics stands.
Classical theory demands that an entity like an electron should behave like a particle or like a wave, but quantum mechanics says it is both. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw a Facebook post about Quantum Shorts bringing together art and science. I wanted to show this conflict, but to portray it through a short film was a challenge as there were many ways in which I could have developed the conflict.
I had the thought of bringing human relations into the story for classical physics, electron, wave, particle and the uncertainty principle. As the idea came into focus, I prepared a first draft of the screenplay. For the final draft, I incorporated suggestions from my friend, Abhay Inamdar and my wife, Amita Naigaonkar.
What is your background?
I did BS and MS in Physics from University of Pune, India and Master of Technology in Photonics from Cochin University of Science and Technology, India. I have a PhD in theoretical physics from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in the United States. After I’d finished this, I taught physics in three institutes before joining my current institute as a faculty member.
This was my first attempt at making a film but I had done some theatre and directed a play during my undergraduate days, which served me well. I also watch a lot of films. That is my passion.
Who else was involved in the movie?
A group of students from my institute helped me. After I had come up with the story, I asked one of the Deans if they knew any students that could make the film. This group of students has some experience in making their own short movies and have acted before, for example for events at the institute.
How did the students respond to the invitation?
Once the script was ready, I met two members of the group, Pratik Talwar and Sankalp Sarnobat. I showed the festival website and also watched the earlier films. They could appreciate the idea in my script and how it was put forward. They got pulled in.
The problem was they had some cultural events and then some exams, so we were running short of time. Nevertheless, they have done a really good job and I will share the prize with them.
How do your faculty colleagues feel about your film being in a festival?
When I showed them, they were really impressed by the concept. The principal, deans and my colleagues were also really happy that I could make it to the final ten out of 203 entries!