Marathi cinema has been thriving and has received wide recognition by winning repeatedly at the National Film Awards. But the same can’t be said about the film industry of Gujarat. So, when a movie bagged the National Film Award for best Gujarati Film after years, with a non-Gujarati speaking director from Mumbai at the helm, it attracted attention. “When I wrote the story I knew that the geography, the culture of Kutch, Gujarat would lend itself to the the story. I developed the film’s characters while I travelled across the state by road and thought that if I needed to get the vibe of the people right, the film would have to be in Gujarati,” shares Gyan Correa, writer-director of The Good Road on his debut film that was commercially released in Gujarat last month. “It was an advantage that I’m not too familiar with the language (his wife is a Gujarati). I could concentrate on getting the actors to emote well,” admits Correa who is an ad filmmaker.
Produced by National Film Development Corporation the film is about Aditya (Keval Katrodia), who gets separated from his parents (Sonali Kulkarni and Ajay Gehi) on road in Kutch. Their lives get intertwined with Pappu (Shamji Dhana Kerasia) a truck driver and Poonam, a nine-year-old who has fled the city to meet her grandparents.
Correa has taken a Neo-Realist approach to the film to translate the stark reality of the characters on screen. The cast generated interest: Kerasia is a truck driver in real life who has never watched a film and prepared himself with three months of theatre workshops. Poonam too, comes from the shanties outside Ahmedabad. “I wanted a non-Gujarati speaking actor to portray an urban couple, which is why we selected Sonali who is a fabulous actress,” says Correa.
Correa also got Academy Award winner Resul Pookutty on board as the sound mixer and designer. He loved the story of the film and interestingly, set up a temporary studio in the desert of Kutch to record Folk songs by local musicians for the film’s soundtrack. Music director Rajat Dholakia was also on board.
“Regional cinema is huge in Maharashtra, Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I hope that with The Good Road winning the National Award, it helps Gujarati cinema too. Working on this film was like learning film-making from scratch as a feature film is different compared to dealing with an ad film,” reveals Correa.