Two sides better, two years later

Ingrid Chang

April 2008: 50 freshmen, eager to become involved in their new high school, headed to the band room during lunch to attend the first official club meeting of Decagon. All they know about  the club is the information listed on flyers that have been passed around school. 

April 2008: 50 freshmen, eager to become involved in their new high school, headed to the band room during lunch to attend the first official club meeting of Decagon. All they know about  the club is the information listed on flyers that have been passed around school. The buzz is centered around the club’s 35 open officer positions. Upon arrival, they are greeted by juniors Ameya Ganpule, Ashwin Singhania, and Anvay Ullal. In a quick turn of events, all 50 freshmen are then informed that Decagon isn’t really a club at MVHS, but rather a part of a comedic film they were creating.

May 2009: After a year of filming and post-production, now seniors Ganpule, Singhania, and Ullal are preparing for the premiere of “Decagon Begins” at the MV Film Festival on May 15, 2009. The MV Film Festival is put on each year by the Historian Tech commission of ASB Leadership to showcase student films. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a free and unlimited barbecue dinner. Films begin showing in the auditorium at 7 p.m.

Singhania and Ullal created the first of the two “Decagon” films their sophomore year as a simple side project. The plot revolved around Decagon, a fictional MVHS club whose name was inspired by the real-life Octagon club at MVHS. However, although Decagon boasts that it is two sides better, it ended up going on trial for selling community service hours. The cast included students such as seniors Brian Miller, Scott Hirsch, and Phil Long. Shown at the 2007 MV Film Festival a nd through online sites like Google Video and YouTube, the film received enthusiastic responses.

“Most people thought it was pretty funny, but we thought it could have been better,” Singhania said.

Eager to do something other than academics for the last two years of high school, they decided to film the prequel. The prequel centers around the creation of Decagon and introduces new main characters, played by seniors Neil Raina and Ameya Ganpule, while taking subtle jabs at the environment of MVHS.

“I first joined the project after talking to Ashwin and Anvay about their previous movie, ‘Decagon.’ They said they wanted to do a prequel but didn’t have any actors so I told them I’d be happy to do it,” Ganpule said. “I definitely don’t want people to think that we’re insulting Octagon or any other community service clubs. We just wanted to poke fun at the competitive atmosphere of MVHS and since Octagon is a really big part of this school, we couldn’t leave them out of the fun.”

In the film, Raina is the leader of a cult on campus called “The Hoods,” whose main profit came from selling grades to students. The success of their business leads Raina and his crew to hold extreme amounts of power over the administration and general school atmosphere. Ganpule’s character notices this injustice and becomes determined to create a new club that can help students achieve their goals of college acceptance through honorable means such as community service.

“I like to describe my character’s view through a quote by Voltaire: ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ In this movie, I fight that power, but [audiences] know from the sequel that I end up becoming exactly what I fought against,” Ganpule said.

The film was shot on a schedule reflective of a busy MVHS student. There were stretches of time that no work was done on the project in contrast to intense weeks where the cast and crew worked on nothing but the project. This hectic schedule made them realize the irony of their film.

“It’s funny—there are some scenes where I have glasses on and all of a sudden, I don’t. Or you’ll notice that my haircut changes in the same scene because we shot it so sporadically,” Ganpule said. “We had trouble finding people who wanted to act or help us out because they were all so busy with academic stuff. What we were parodying was real and actually happened to us.”

Singhania, along with the rest of his cast and crew of the series, have one simple goal for the Decagon saga: for people to enjoy it.

“I think more people know about it and are excited this year because they’ve seen us running around and filming during school rather than just the weekends. We wouldn’t have put this much effort into the film if we didn’t think it was pretty funny or that it wasn’t something a MVHS student could relate to,” Singhania said. “We really hope people are excited to see it at the Film Festival.”