An Interview With Rahul Gandotra – A Road Home
IndiEarth, in conversation with Rahul Gandotra about his film The Road Home, Pico – the protagonist, and his journey from professional sports to professional filmmaking
IndiEarth: Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How you entered into the word of filmmaking and storytelling?
Rahul: My path into filmmaking is a bit different from others in that I was originally gunning for professional sports and then later was on the path to becoming a professor and business consultant. It took a writing professor in my undergraduate education to recognise that my disparate interests of philosophising, writing, photography, and leading teams would be better served with film directing.
IndiEarth: The Road Home – could you tell us a bit on the film’s perspective?
Rahul: The film is about a ten-year old boy named Pico who is bullied for insisting he is British despite his Indian heritage. He runs away from his boarding school in the Himalayas, determined to return to his home in England. But as he journeys through a land unknown to him, Pico encounters others who mistake him for an Indian boy, forcing him to face the painful truth that the world does not see him the way he sees himself.
IndiEarth: What made you take out a camera and share your perspectives with the world? What do you think has made the film connect with people from all over the world?
Rahul: This story behind The Road Home is a personal one in that I experienced a lot of the themes that Pico felt throughout the film. In some respect, I thought I would take my experience and put it on film as a defence of my experience, thinking that those who have misunderstood me would hopefully better understand my experience by watching the film.
As for the film connecting the world over, that’s a tough question to answer as I haven’t had a chance to talk to everyone the world over! But from the little I’ve been able to gather: the themes in the film are becoming more and more common in today’s world and resonate amongst those who grow up around the world.
IndiEarth: This was initially a short film before it became a feature film. Why did you decide to do a short one on a story that demands a lot of character building; and issues that are very complex?
Rahul: Actually we have yet to make the feature film just yet. My feature film producer is in the process of raising finance and once we have that, we will begin to shoot the feature version of the short film.
While the themes in the short film are somewhat complex, they will not be as deep as the themes in the feature film. Regardless, I felt that the story in “The Road Home” had to be told and I didn’t realise until after I completed the short film how difficult a task it was to convey the themes in a significantly reduced amount of time.
Rahul: “The Road Home” premiered in June 2010 at the Palm Springs Shortfest, though it was already nominated for the Student Academy Awards beforehand. It has gone to play in over 60 film festivals and is still playing in festivals worldwide. It was also nominated for the British Independent Film Awards and shortlisted for the 2012 Oscars.
IndiEarth: How much do you feel online platforms like vimeo and other social media help in gaining exposure?
Rahul: I think if used right, it can create quite a bit of exposure. I myself have used Facebook extensively and will soon be experimenting with other platforms to promote the short film.
IndiEarth: Distribution plans for The Road Home, marketing for the film? Where can it be purchased in India?
Rahul: The Road Home was released online on 28 September 2012: http://roadhomefilm.com. On this site, you can rent it online. As for buying it in India, you can use the following link: http://tinyurl.com/the-road-home-pal-amazon
IndiEarth: A few words from your perspective of the changes in technology effecting filmmakers and audiences – the filmmaker-viewer relationship in this environment, and how emerging filmmakers navigate the ever shifting sands of technology, formats and other things technical that add (or subtract) to the storytelling experience.
IndiEarth: What do you think about the Indian Independent Film industry, filmmakers whose work you consider notable, and what advice would you give to upcoming independent filmmakers in India?