Gyan Correa is my oldest chaddi buddy. Forty years ago, we played cricket together, smashed neighbours’ windows, rang their doorbells and then hid as crazy kids are wont to do. We joined St Xaviers College, drank cutting chai, and cut lectures. We were part of a college gang that shared mutton biryanis at Café Mayrose, Dhobi Talao, as we shared our teenage years. Gyan and I started our careers together at the Xavier Institute of Communications, making audio visuals in a non- digital age.
Our career paths converged and diverged, though we work quite closely now. He makes television commercials for my ad agency.
One day, he announced that he was making the leap into feature films.
“Who’s the star, dude? Where are you going to shoot, Switzerland? It’s an English film, obviously, your Hindi is as bad as mine. Between us we have three Roman Catholic parents, for Christ’s sake!”
He looked at me with the quirky grin he’s always had and said, “No stars, and I’m shooting the film in Kutch.”
“In what language?”, I asked fearfully.
Two backbreaking years later his labour of love was ready. We watched it with much pride and some trepidation. This was good old classic film making. No frills, a road movie in the tradition of Wim Wenders.
“How are you going to get this film released?”
Gyan smiled, “Don’t know, I’m moving onto my second film”, he said philosophically.
And then The Good Road won the National Award for best Gujarati movie.
But we still didn’t predict the high jinks that lay on ahead on Gyan’s highway.
It was over a Wonton soup and Crispy Spinach at Kamlings that Gyan hit us with the news. “Guys, my film has been selected as the Indian entry for the Oscars.”
The next day his world turned upside down.
Everyone wanted to know who this dark horse was. This outsider who had stolen food from The Lunchbox. Who had sunk Ship of Theseus, and outran Bhaag Milkha Bhaag?
He had pulled the self-styled pundits off their pedestals.
How dare this unknown film and filmmaker spoil our party, they ranted.
They trashed him on Twitter, mauled him in the media and fisted him on Facebook.
They sulked and sledged the Film Federation of India for bad selection and bribery.
It was truly a black chapter in the history of independent cinema. And I think we truly are crabs pulling each other down. Herald this film, instead of haranguing its director, you celluloid prophets.
The point is our chaddi buddy stands on the brink of history. Not easy to win an Oscar. Canvassing, marketing, the circus that awaits him is awesome.
But there he is, while the barking dogs have retreated to their kennels, Gyan Correa boards a flight to LA in a week.
Dude, go out there, smash a few windows, and ring a few doorbells. This time there’s no need to hide. Go ride your truck down the red carpet.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.