Born and brought up in Hyderabad, expat film director Nitin Raghunath, who has been living in the States for over eight years, has come up with his debut feature film Mere Haule Dost, a young adult film which is releasing in India on June 7.
Mere Haule Dost is a fun and quirky ride set against the backdrop of lives of five laid-back friends in the city of Hyderabad. He says, “I was born and raised in Hyderabad. Other than recreating a sense of nostalgia in the film, one of the main reasons for setting the film in Hyderabad was the easy access to support structure.” As much as it was about the vision and the story of the film, execution and project completion were equally important to Raghunath.
He adds, “Also, you have to keep in mind that the film is an urban story and does have some flavours of Hyderabad but is not specifically about the city.” Raghunath has made a couple of short films in the past that were showcased at San Francisco film festival. A recent film, Court Metrage was screened at Cannes in 2011. According to him, Mere Haule Dost is a quirky ride set against the backdrop of lives of five friends.
It’s a journey of friendship, girls, parties, bikes, madness and their thrill for the Himalayan bike rally. “When I was in college, I wanted to make something that was not too stylistic, yet had the elements of nostalgia and vibe of a studio sitcom. I hope the audience sees the film as a reference,” says the Indian-American filmmaker. “The film isn’t autobiographical but the lead characters in the movie — Bheja, Mota, Paisa, Bong and Dada — are all inspired by my childhood friends,” explains Nitin.
The hiring research started in April 2011. They put together the cast and crew of the movie with the help of couple of websites that list the services of freelance technical experts. “Some of the lead actors were non-professionals and were chosen for their chemistry off-screen. A month-long workshop with them confirmed their roles for the film. The remaining cast included professional actors, theatre artists and some natural actors. We auditioned for the roles by advertising online and connecting through referrals,” says Raghunath.
Looking back at the entire experience, he says, “I made my first feature film right after college more than 10 years ago by reading a book Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices. However, the problem was that we didn’t have the money to even buy a used car. Pramida, the producer for Mere Haule Dost, also produced that film and in the end we were able to create something. Later, I went to film school to hone my craft, make connections and join the filmmaking community.”
Apparently, the movie, Mere Haule Dost was supposed to be made in 2008 itself. “But the stock market crashed and the producer backed out. So we decided to go ahead and fund the movie with our savings,” says Raghunath.
Mere Haule Dost is a micro budget film and they didn’t have the big money to release the movie. But they found their savior in PVR Cinemas, which has a vertical, called PVR Director’s Rare—that distributes independent movies. “Social media also play an active role. It has been instrumental in sharing our film, the title track and the trailer. We do not have access to traditional marketing and it is only because of social media that we have been able to get whatever traction we achieved so far,” says the director.
“I am developing a comedy about two guys who research conspiracy theories and have just found a definitive evidence of Yeti. I am also planning to produce another film being developed by one of our teammates. In the meanwhile, there is also another comic book I am writing,” says the director, whose wife Pramida took a long leave from Cisco to help him as a producer.