It is a recurring childhood dream for many of us to travel throughout India. Director Sohan Lal was one among the dreamers. During his teenage years, he decided that cinema would be his career. But it took a long while — to be more precise, in early 2017 that he managed to merge his dream and his career and come up with a road movie aptly titled The Great India Road Movie that travelled through 17 states and covered 15,000 kms. Some films are at their best when the characters are on the move.
Sohan Lal says, “The story is of a nine-year-old visually-challenged boy, who upon regaining his sight, wants to travel the nook and corner of India. His father, a security guard, is working in a government institution and is not financially sound, but makes it his life mission to fulfill his son’s wish.” The travel the father and son undertake takes the audience all over the wonderful India.
Of course, the travel is not without obstacles, but those take the story forward and add the splashes of colour to the kaleidoscope.
Actor Sunil Sugatha plays the role of a priest who is a well-wisher of the family who urges the father to take his son on the road trip. Sohan Lal says, “Sunil’s character is the motivational figure whose words are relevant today. He says that rather than letting children be bound to books and desks, it is imperative that they be liberated by experiencing various cultures. The message that more than money, it is the mind to travel that is important is constantly reinforced.”
While on a road trip, the obstacles are plenty. With the cast and crew travelling to desolate and difficult terrains, there was always that edge of danger overshadowing them.
Sohan Lal says, “It had been my dream to go to Cherrapunji – the land of eternal rain and we had a schedule there at the double-Decker Bridge. One needs to climb 650 steps to reach the spot and you can imagine how hard it was for the young child Ashray and the technicians to get there carrying the equipment.”
He smiles and says, “My technicians considered this as a long trekking trip. Unpredictability loomed at every step but the hand of God protected us.”
The film was shot in 55 days. The characters — Ashray and the father character played by Vijay Anand — travelled in lorries, buses, camels, bullock carts, trams and boats.
“The characters experienced the various modes of transport, the music, food, climate and terrain of different states but the film is not about just travel; there is a story there too!”
Madhupal too plays a prominent role in the film with music by Sreevalsan J. Menon and lyrics by Rafeeq Ahamed. The film is currently in post-production stage.