Gyan Correa is on cloud nine. And why shouldn't he? His film THE GOOD ROAD has won the National Award for the best Gujarati film. We speak with the filmmaker about the film, working with Resul Pookutty and more. Read on.
How did the THE GOOD ROAD come about? I worked in advertising for many years. When I thought of making my feature, I decided to travel out my comfort zone and environment. So I got in to a truck. I hitched a ride in India. I travelled, interacted and stayed with truck drivers and saw their lives. Slowly in that process my characters and stories started forming and I started staying with the various people in the film. I started interacting with them very closely.
How did you get NFDC on board as producers? NFDC has a mandate to produce films which are not your sort of mainstream
''We went through some 500 different people to cast the main lead''
films and developing this new cinema. So I approached them. I knew that with the script I had and the kind of cinema I wanted to make, I'd never be able to raise funds from any of the big production houses.
Why was the film made in Gujarat and specifically Kutch? I will reverse that question and that order (smiles). In all the places I saw in India, I think Kutch really fit the story. Kutch is very unique and rich in terms of its ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage. It's very rich in terms of music, people and landscape. So it was a very perfect fit for the story and the characters I had in my film. Any other place wouldn't have been as fit as Kutch. Because you choose Kutch, was it mandatory for you to make the film in Gujarati? One of the things I was very clear about right from the start was that I was going to cast the film, in its natural environment and be very faithful to that natural environment. So as far as possible the characters are from there or they are from the parts of the story. So the truck driver had to be a local person, the little girl had to be a local person and the people who were in the car had to be a set of people from an urban center but who knew that area, that language and that place but not as well as they thought they would.
How was the cast and crew selected? I wanted to be as true as possible to the characters. My main character was a truck driver. We went through some 500 different people and we actually looked on highways all across India for the truck driver. Even for the little girl in the film, we went all over Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat looking for people who would fit that bill. We finally found the girl from a place near Ahmedabad. We took the urban couple from Mumbai. Talking the topline stars wasn't so difficult. But because the main actor wasn't literate and had never seen a film before in his life, he didn't understand what a film is. So we wanted to take someone who was local to the story and not local to the place. Casting had to be as close to the character in the film as possible.
How did you get Resul Pookutty on board? Resul Pookutty is a fabulous guy who lives in these two worlds of mainstream cinema and alternate space of experimenting and doing things differently. I think his role in the film particularly in the post production was extremely positive and huge. He was able to get a kind of energy to the whole sound production which realty helped us a lot. I think he really liked the script a lot. He was very clear that he wanted to be a part of it.
How was the experience working with him? I wanted to use folk musicians and the music and the music had to be minimal. So folk musicians from Kutch were used and Resul was very supportive of the idea that we'll record them there in Gujarat and not here in Mumbai. If you are
'Resul Pookutty is a fabulous guy'
used to singing in the dessert, you can't come to a studio and have four walls around you and a microphone in front of you. It was not possible to bring them to Mumbai. Rasul ensured that technology didn't let us down. He ensured that the sounds were faithfully reproduced because the advantage of recoding them there far outweighed the comfort of being in a studio environment in Mumbai. So Resul and his team were able to make that happen.
When you in the process of making THE GOOD ROAD, did you think of the commercial aspect at all? No, I didn't. I am not good with money. A story is a story and if someone likes it, it's fabulous. If people don't like it, I got to go back and write another story. When I wrote the story and shared it, everyone was very positive about it. That gave me a lot of strength to proceed further. I really hope people like it. If I think of how much money my film will make, I won't be able to make it. I hope my film becomes mainstream and more and more people come to see it. I don't see why that shouldn't happen.