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In a genuine effort to maintain the Gujarati tradition and culture in Australia, since the last fourteen years, Vipul Vyas & his team of local artists, through Mahavira Production, have presented family dramas for Indian audience. Now, in an effort to provide entertainment along with a message to Gujarati Diaspora, with the tremendous support of local community and affiliated organizations, Mahavira Production presents PARDESH EK SAPANU, the first ever Gujarati film shot & produced in Australia by Pardesh Pty Ltd, Pradeep Pandya, Bhargav Desai.
PARDESH EK SAPANU is a new experiment, on a larger scale, providing an insight into the journey and the difficulties of a migrant, a person trying to establish identity in a different country.
In conversation with the co-director of PARDESH – EK SAPANU, Vipul Vyas. Here are the excerpts:
What was the idea of shooting PARDESH – EK SAPANU in Australia
The story demanded to shoot the film in Australia. It’s now my duty to pay ode to Gujarati tradition and culture, the state in general, the Gujarati film industry and the film PARDESH – EK SAPANU is that effort.
The germ of idea for this kind of subject?
Many people in India, especially the Gujarati & Punjabi communities are highly fascinated with the foreign land and dream of migrating & settling there. They feel the grass is green on other side as in there is less amount of struggle settling life in abroad. Hindi Films show a very rosy picture about life in overseas. Whereas the reality is absolutely different. There have been 30,000 cases of fraud marriages reported where in the families get married their daughters to NRI grooms and get deceived.
Many of my friends came to me saying that I should do something and try to show the true picture.
PARDESH – EK SAPANU will highlight and clarify the misconception about foreign countries that people have. It traces the difference between dream and reality. It shows the mirror to the society.
So it’s inspired from a true story?
I can’t reveal much about the story. All I can say is every scene is the sum total of my experiences in life. This is not inspired from single story. There have been hundreds of such stories.
The subject has universal appeal so did you think of making it in Hindi?
Though many people asked me to make it in Hindi, I always felt strong connect with Gujarati. As I owe something to the state of Gujarat and the rich culture. I owe my fans so decided to give them something in return.
But making in Hindi could fetch you huge commercial gains?
More than commercial success I wanted to tell the story.
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I wanted to help Gujarati film industry in a way. Gujarati films are known for overacting and songs & dances. After doing this film at least one Gujarati can proudly that I did something for the culture and industry in general. If my film can give some push I will be more than happy. That’s the only way we can revive. It takes immense efforts to bring about a change.
It has modern content and universal appeal, so is it only for urban audience? Are small towns targeted?
Now Gujarat and Gujaratis have developed. There is change in the outlook. It’s for every gujarati and not restricted to city or village. Whether in Gujarat or outside Gujarat the film is for everyone who wants to watch it.
Gujarati Films have always been made on shoestring budgets. Tell us about the budgets of PARDESH – EK SAPANU? Did you face any constraint making this film
The kind of budgets this film has consumed 2-3 Gujarati films can be easily made. I thought I might face problems with the place and permissions shooting in Australia but thankfully it didn’t happen so. However, I wanted to take couple of aerial shots just to highlight Sydney on wider scale and for that I had to hire helicopter. But since the budgets were high and it cost us 16000$ I had to drop the idea. I couldn’t do that because of the budget constraint.
This film was possible because of the support of entire Gujarati community.
What do you think why Gujarati cinema was lagging behind as compared to other regional cinema?Why filmmakers refrained from reviving it all these years?
Till 2-3 years back the industry was far behind of its time because the films used to release in small centers. Thus the film didn’t reach city audiences and they were going far off from Gujarati Cinema. It’s absolutely film directors and producers fault. Filmmakers also thought since city audience shows least interest we will make films only for those audiences who are keen to watch it. Hence the gap widened. The filmmakers failed to judge if they could do something for their urban audience.
This is the first ever Gujarati film to be released with English subtitles
In India it will release without subtitles. The idea of having English subtitles was respecting the younger generation and Gujaratis who have resided overseas for generations.
How has been the response in Sydney since the film first released there?
The film has already released in Sydney, Australia during late April and early May. The response has been wonderful. The premiere was attended by many people. We will also release the film in other parts of Australia like Melbourne, etc
Besides Australia which other places are you aiming to release?
We are trying to get US and UK as well. The core market is in US, UK, Canada, East Africa, CG (around New Zealand and Australia) as huge number of Gujaratis reside in these places.
How wide will be its release?Is the film being released in multiplexes as well?
We are releasing it on UFO digital theatres. The film has been uploaded on UFO. Not only multiplexes the film will also get released in single screen theatres. We have already started playing promos in Gujarat. We are trying to get as many theatres. Our target is to get 20-25 theatres. The competition is tough from EK THA TIGER and SHIRIN FARHAD KI TOH NIKAL PADI and because of that we are facing problems in getting theatres. Let’s see we are trying our best.
Shri Narendra Modi, CM of the State of Gujarat, was appreciative of the film even before its release.
Yes he was very proud & happy to see that even being away from the homeland we kept the culture & tradition of Gujarat alive in abroad. He encouraged and appreciated our work and wished us all the luck. He even sent us an appreciation letter. We are trying to send him the invitation for the film. We’ll see if we can show the film to Modiji.
What makes the community so popular?
The specialty of Gujarati community is their easy adaptability nature. They can adapt to any situation, any place. However, we are losing touch with the language, culture and the sense of patriotism.