About RALANG ROAD:
The film is about two teenagers and their teacher, who cross each others’ path multiple times during a day to discover unexpected secrets, all of this in the midst of a robbery in a quaint hilly town in the midst of Himalayas.
The film is in Nepali language and is 112 minutes in duration. This is the director’s debut, who is natively from Sikkim (India) where the film is shot. Majority of the cast are locals who have never acted before.
As I completed my diploma film in the FTII, Pune, a few batchmates and I got together to work our first venture outside the institute – this resulted in us forming a production house called ‘HumanTrail Pictures’. Ralang Road is our second film and my directorial debut.
Ralang Road was shot over a period of one month in South Sikkim, primarily in the areas of Borong and Rabong, where I grew up. Most of the locations were subconsciously locked in my head. I was joined by the rest of my crew, a small but tight-knit group who are familiar with the practice of working together due to our time together at FTII.
We are all filmmakers and do not just handle a specific department while shooting. So, the shooting period was really very collaborative and also instinctive, where there wasn’t any compartmentalising of departments. Everyone did everything.
It would have been impossible to get any work done without the support of the locals. Fortunately, they completely took to the process of making the film, completely involving themselves in it — whether it was by being in front of the camera or behind. Locals, who had never acted before, complemented this collaborative process, despite having day jobs and limited time.
Of course it so turned out that shooting the film was the easier part of making it. The post-production part of the film took sometime because of various unavoidable reasons. Fortunately, we just stuck around and roughed it out. Everyone involved during this period of time gave their complete effort and time to our small film whenever required, which was very encouraging.
Along the way we managed to find people that believed in the film and to an extent in us. This allowed the film a very prestigious world premiere at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Czech Republic), something that we couldn’t really have thought about or planned.
In a sense, Ralang Road is a sum total of a lot of selflessness and a determined collective effort — efforts that would be hard to quantify, and passion that we hope the film can, to a small extent, justify.
As a group, we have been very fortunate to find support at every turn. Our families have been the first pillars to help us start the process of making this film. With their initial investment, six of us gathered in Sikkim as the year 2016 began. Karma had sent a draft of the screenplay, although the film actually started taking shape only after we reached there in the milieu amongst the locals.
Shubham, one of the main characters, and Roushan, the production designer and also one of the characters in the film, are the only two trained actors in the film. The remaining actors are all local to Karma’s village, Borong and the nearby town in which we shot, Rabong. Along with helping us with production tasks like location permissions, Karma’s family connected us with locals who were interested in being part of a film. As we met, auditioned and did workshops with them, the characters came to life.
Though we initially struggled with scheduling because all of them had day jobs or went to school, we managed to find a rhythm as shooting began. In retrospect, it seems funny how we tried to explain to them that though we were shooting over a month, the film was the story of a day and they could not get a haircut or change the clothes they were wearing.
I feel, like in ‘Mor Mann Ke Bharam’, where we worked with local actors from IPTA Raigarh, the involvement and support of the local community as the film gets made binds elements from our story organically into the atmosphere of the real space. They were not only our characters, but played their part in every department as and when the need arose. Their energy and enthusiasm made the harsh cold, which most of us were alien to, bearable.
As the shoot got over and we began the edit, we started planning for the next step, which involved what to do with the film after we finish it. Over the years, we have realised that often making a film is just one step of the process of ‘filmmaking’. One needs to find avenues for the film to reach the audience, however niche they might be. The most natural thing that occurred to us was to take it to Film Bazaar in Goa. For Indian independent films, it is one of the best platforms available today. We showed the film to many people there, including programmers who watch hundreds of films every year, and received very valuable feedback. It took us some time to process it before we decided on what to implement. We also received a word from Karlovy Vary Film Festival that they were interested in the film. We were surprised that they picked our film from blind submission, as they receive a lot of films through their website.
The festival was a huge learning experience for us. We were one of the competition titles there, and it is a big deal. We made a trailer for the festival, so we can reach and invite audience into the theatre, along with other materials. Our first screening was a full house in the huge Grand Hall there. When you see an enthusiastic audience in the hall, it is a huge confidence booster and also a validation of the effort you have put in.
The film will be playing in the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival (starting this week), and will then head to the Dharamshala International Film Festival. It is something we are really looking forward to, because the audience will know the context of the film, and also the language spoken, at least partially. We cannot wait to see how they react to the film.
Since we started from scratch, it was all the more important for us to learn things we have never ventured into before. We have found wonderful supporters who help us keep going. We have partnered with Colourbar for Digital Intermediate and Anish John’s Sin Temple for our sound post. We have recently collaborated with Basil Content Media, who are helping us with the festivals. It is very important to find people who resonate your frequency, as films are made from meaningful collaborations, and that is the reason we believe we are a collective of filmmakers and not just a production company.