Hope 'Peddlers' finds legitimacy with a release: Director Vasan Bala

Recently Bala, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, actor Vijay Varma and producer Guneet Monga took to Twitter to ask Eros to release the film on their streaming platform.
Director Vasan Bala. (photo| YouTube screengrab)
Director Vasan Bala. (photo| YouTube screengrab)

MUMBAI: Filmmaker Vasan Bala may have made a successful film in "Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota" but the director says it is hard to get over the pain of his debut film "Peddlers" not finding a release even after eight years.

The Mumbai-set "Peddlers" was backed by Guneet Monga and screened at Cannes Critics' Week in 2012. Before its festival debut, Eros International acquired the film for release. But the film has virtually vanished, except for the occasional mention in the filmmaker's helpless tweets.

Recently Bala, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, actor Vijay Varma and Monga took to Twitter to ask Eros to release the film on their streaming platform. "Hello @ErosNow. This is your chance to redeem yourself. Please put @Vasan_Bala 's 'Peddlers' out on a streaming platform. Tthank you very much," Kashyap had tweeted.

Bala, who had also urged the studio to drop the movie on their streaming app, said he will keep trying for the film to get a release. "There's no proper reason for them (Eros) to be doing this out of love or fear. There's nothing I can do now, other than sporadically do these Twitter rants. I also know this is perhaps a wrong time to be talking about a film because we are facing a bigger problem." he said.

"But maybe it's also because of quarantine that I'm all riled up. I hope they put it out and give it some legitimacy. That's the word I'm looking out for. Make it legitimate," Bala told PTI The ramification of not having one's debut feature available for viewing is "heartbreaking", he said.

"In these eight years, whenever I've pitched my second film, the conversation would always start with, 'See Vasan this is your first film' and it hurts so much. It isn't really the box office of the first film but the fact that you've become a filmmaker. It's a very middle class feeling, like owning your office space. Of course, these are small things but as a filmmaker, you want these little recognitions," he added.

Bala, who helmed the last year's acclaimed "Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota", began the shoot of "Peddlers" in October 2011 and finished the edit by March 2012. Two months later, "Peddlers" was at Cannes and the director, excited that a big studio like Eros had acquired it, felt accomplished.

"It started out as a complete indie film. There were some ten investors who gave Rs 10 lakhs each and that's how it was made at pittance. When Eros came in, it all seemed great, I felt I'll be a filmmaker who will make a lot of films. But I could make my second film only six years later," he said.

The director said he understands that this is the "reality of cinema and life" but the long wait has been crushing. Bala said he had reached out to the company multiple times to get some clarity but without success.

Even Monga, the director said, is helpless after writing several emails to the company. The director said he does not usually like to talk about the film but when people ask about its release, it "hits a nerve".

"I became a filmmaker watching Mani Ratnam, who made a film every year, and now I'm like Terrence Malick - or even worse than him - in terms of the time gap. When you're in your prime, when you can be reckless, have a camera, some funding and success, it's great to learn filmmaking by making so many films rather than waiting it out.

"Of course I've evolved in these eight years and become a better person, but I would have rather wanted to be a reckless filmmaker who became a better person by making ten other films. But it's ok. You take life it as it comes," he added. Eros remained unavailable for a comment despite repeated attempts.

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