A new Indian thriller aims to draw attention to the growing trend of teen suicides connected to the online game "Blue Whale."
In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), Vinod Poojary, the director of "Maya Kannadi," or "Mirror of Illusion," said the film showcases the crystal clear "pitfalls of technology addiction."
The movie will hit the silver screen in the Indian state of Karnataka in October, he said.
Poojary, who also wrote the film's story, said the movie unfolds on a college campus where students play the notorious Blue Whale game, also known as the Blue Whale Challenge, and kill themselves. The film's protagonist, a college student named Sandy, tries to solve the mystery behind the deadly game.
Blue Whale is a controversial game reportedly developed by a young Russian university student who was later arrested by authorities in 2016. It first appeared on Russian social media platforms three years ago.
The game assigns players - mostly teens handpicked by some adult administrators - with various "quests" to perform over a 50-day period.
These quests reportedly include watching horror films and in some cases, engaging in destructive activities.
Poojary, a Prague Film School graduate, urged youth to seek help when they are confronted with a miscreant while surfing online.
"The virtue of a knife depends on whether it is being used to chop vegetables or murder someone. Technology can be a boon if it is used with care," he stressed.
He said he read extensively about online games, particularly the Blue Whale game, before writing the story line.
"The number of lives it had claimed disturbed me. It made me worry about today's generation. I felt like I needed to jolt and wake up youth."
He highlighted that all online games have one thing in common: Winning a game provides incomparable gratification to the player.
"However, in such games like Blue Whale and Momo, one cannot move on after winning. Unfortunately, the winning stage is also the death stage."
Film with a message
One of the leading actors in the film, Prabhu Mundkur, told AA that the message of the film is not to become slaves to technology, which is created by humans.
"We [human beings] have created all these technologies, and we must be cautious about the traps, which are again created by humans," Mundkur said.
Mundkur, a microbiologist turned actor, said he read many articles on the Blue Whale game, met many college students and understood the addiction to mobile phones and online games.
He indicated that the motive behind the film is to make the younger generation understand the importance of life and to help them avoid falling for such "lame tricks" in the modern world.
The Blue Whale game has reportedly been linked to scores of teen suicides, especially in Russia, prompting authorities in several countries to issue warnings to parents. More than 140 people in Turkey and 300 in Russia allegedly killed themselves after playing Blue Whale, and many others were saved at the last minute, according to statistics compiled from local media and reports by parents.