Director Sohan Lal’s The Great Indian Road Movie, a film that travels through 17 states and shows us the various sights and characteristics of India through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy, was screened at LIFFT India on Sunday (9 December). The film won two awards at the festival – Best Producer, awarded to Abhilash S Pillai, and Best Child Actor (Male), that went to the film’s protagonist Master Ashray.
In the film, the boy, who has been blind since birth, starts seeing after a surgery. He wishes to see the country and his father takes him on a journey through India – from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, passing through several cities including Delhi, Kolkata, Shillong, Mumbai and Manali. Without much money at hand, the duo slum it out.
Pillai, whose son Ashray plays the lead role in the film, talks about how gruelling the shoot turned out to be.
“Many of the scenes were shot in difficult terrains. The double decker bridge you saw near Cherrapunji, for example. That is a steep climb of around 3000 steps. It’s about three a half kilometers of travel both ways. To take the whole crew, equipment and a kid there, and shooting there was quite difficult,” says Pillai, who is a avid traveller himself.
The producer also had to make sure that the crew remains in good health considering that their food, weather conditions and water were changing every few days.
The film was shot in over two months, with a budget of Rs1.5 crore.
The entire film is viewed through the child’s eyes, who is soaking in all the sights for the first time in his life. “All the locations and sights are viewed from the eyes of a child who has just started seeing,” he says.
While the core of the story remained the same, Pillai says that the screenplay changed completely once the shoot began. “The script that was narrated to me was a completely different one. But when we started travelling the script got changed according to our travel. So, the final film doesn’t resemble the original script at all,” he says.
Pillai has plans to release the film in theatres some time next year.