When we talk of regional cinema, we usually refer to films made in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi Bengali and Konkani. We don’t usually talk of Rajasthani cinema. Choreographer Shreyans Jain hopes to change that perception with his directorial debut, Hivade Me Fute Laadu (On Cloud Nine).Made earlier this year, Hivade Me Fute Ladu is the inspirational account of a 12 year-old girl who overcomes her social, physical, and mental obstacles to pursue her passion for dancing. The film, which also tackles social issues such as the education of girls, child labour, and domestic violence, has had a successful run in Bikaner, where Jain lives. Several schools have also held special screenings of Hivade Me Fute Ladu in local cinemas, raising hopes that more films will be made in the local language.
Like several local film industries, Rajasthani cinema is plagued by lack of finance, indifferent production quality and ineffective promotions. The memorable films in the state language date back to the 1980s, including Ramu-Chanana (1984), Supattar Binani (1981) and Ramkudi-Jhamkudie (1989). The maximum number of Rajasthani films made since the 2000s has not crossed more than four in a year . Some years see only one or two releases. A state government incentive of Rs 10 lakhs for U-rated films and Rs five lakhs for UA-rated movies has failed to improve matters. Will Shreyans Jain be able to breathe new life into a dying industry? He is certainly hopeful, as an interview with Scroll.in revealed.
Why did you decide to make ‘Hivade Me Fute Laadu’ in Rajasthani rather than, say, Hindi?
I was thinking about how people from Bollywood come here and make great films with the backdrop of Rajasthan, but the locals themselves are not doing a good job with the movies. That’s when I decided to go for it.
The movie’s story is very much connected with Rajasthan. The protagonist is a 12-year old girl from a village. When you have to show a village from Rajasthan, naturally the people from the state speak Rajasthani. So I decided to make it in Rajasthani.
‘Hivade Me Fute Laadu’ has had a full house for the four weeks that it ran in Bikaner. Did you expect the movie to do well, considering that the rest of Rajasthani cinema does not get that kind of an attention?
Everybody in the team was anxious about how the movie would do in theatres. But my vision was clear, since I had put in my 110 percent. The story and content was good. So I was confident that the film would please the audience.
What is the one message audiences took away with them?
Everyone expected the movie to be a stereotypical copy of Bollywood, since it was regional Rajasthani cinema. But they were left amazed since the storyline was new and logical, the characters were different, and the treatment of the state and the people was totally changed.
Your film throws light on various social issues. How effective is cinema in spreading a social message?
Whenever one presents anything creative, whether on stage or celluloid, it must have a soul. It must have something which can make this place a better place to live in. I was very clear that I have to comment on contemporary social issues, but also keep the film entertaining and commercially viable.
Regional cinemas from other states are going strong and even making a national impact in terms of of awards and film festival exposure. But we haven’t had a Rajasthani movie in recent years that saw a full house or crossed over to other states.
People involved in filmmaking in Rajasthan don’t have that kind of a vision. They don’t believe their films can go to film festivals or win awards. The main reason is that the stories the filmmakers are presenting are not real. They are mostly copying Bollywood and making movies only for money. They aren’t working honestly or for their own satisfaction.
Even I was mocked and told by many that if I believed my film would get recognition or be shown at film festivals, it was not going to happen. But I told them that it’s alright, and that I would just keep trying.
I am making a film that does not have a hero-heroine concept. The protagonist is a 12-year old girl. The storyline is offbeat. So who would like it? Because people usually ask, who is your hero? Who is your heroine? So I say, my story is my heroine.
Was it a deliberate choice to cast a girl rather than a boy?
Garima Jain, the actor who plays the protagonist Ghutki, has been my student for the past six or seven years. I first saw her when she was in the third standard, while I was choreographing a function at her school. She was participating in dance and drama, and also delivering dialogue efficiently. That touched my heart, and I asked her if her parents allow her to act in a film. She came back the next day and told me that they would.
Since then, each summer vacation, she used to come for summer classes and ask me when the movie was going to begin. So that has been a positive pressure on me to make a film.
You have worn several hats for the film. You have worked as a writer, director, producer, actor and choreographer and even composed a song.
I played so many roles that I used to call myself a stepney.
I started with a blank canvas. I was unaware of how and where to start, and how everything would take shape. I even started my production house without assistance of a financier. A director has a vision of what he wants to present on the screen that nobody else can know. So it is better if one person does all these things. So yes, it was hectic for me to be the producer, director, actor, lyricist, choreographer, and also compose two songs. But I held out.
Which role did you enjoy playing the most?
I enjoyed the most as a director because that was my newest hobby. As a choreographer, I have been working for the last 20-25 years. I had made couple of short films earlier, but a feature film is an entirely different thing.
You have left your day-time job as a scientist to make films full-time.
I took this step two years ago. Even my in-laws thought that I had gone mad. But I wanted to take up film-making, and you can’t do that with another job. Previously I was involved in choreography, but that was like sailing in two boats. I finally decided to follow my heart without anticipating what I would earn or what would follow.
What are you planning on doing next?
I still have to work on making my film reach each and every corner of Rajasthan. Hence I am busy with its distribution. I have also started working on my second project. It’s a feature film based in Rajasthan but I am thinking of making it in Hindi, since I want to grab a larger India.
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