After spending years in the Middle East and making documentaries there, filmmaker Gautam Singh got back to India tell a story close to his heart. Here are excerpts from an interview.
Is ‘Gaon The Village No More’ is based on a real incident?
The story of ‘Gaon The Village No More’ is inspired by my own experiences. It is based on real events from my village in Jharkhand. All the characters are based on the people I was surrounded with while growing up as a child.
Has it been shot in the same village where the story is based in?
No, it has not been shot in that village but the village is very similar to the one I grew up in. We spent a year in finding the location and the right actors for the film. We wanted a village where there would be no modern facilities like electricity etc. We found this travel village in Jharkhand, closer to the border of Odisha. I sent the actors fifteen days before we started shooting, so that they could get a hang of the village atmosphere. Just like the original village, it is surrounded by mountains. Our village was cut-off from the rest of the world. If you were cooking, you were cooking for the entire village and not just for your family. Every activity always involved the entire village. We were a closely knit community. Nobody dependent on money to survive. We made use of the resources in the village. Slowly, things started changing when people from the village started moving to cities. At least one person from each family went to the city to study or work.
How did you get into filmmaking?
I always wanted to become a filmmaker. Travel cinema had reached my village. I saw films like ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikandar’ there. My father wanted to become a doctor. I went to medical college but ran away from there and finally ended up studying filmmaking in a film institute in Jamshedpur. After finishing my course, I moved to Mumbai and edited a couple of Hindi films. After that, I joined Al Jazeera network. I was making documentary films in Doha.
Did you face difficulty in arranging funds for the film?
We did not find it difficult to gather funds for the film. After I finished writing the first draft, I narrated it to my friends who loved it. Each of them put a small amount of money. I also contributed some funds and soon enough, we had enough money to make this film. We took the story to a couple of studios but they wanted to add certain elements like songs which would have diluted the story.
What are you making next?
My next film is about two generations and how they are completely different. The first draft is ready and we hope to start the shoot soon.