Uplifting Indian film wins accolades worldwide
Marathi film Puglya - which is yet to be released - revolves around two kids and a pug.
Vinod Sam Peter, director of Puglya - which centres on two kids and their lives post the arrival of an adorable pug - is happy with the over forty accolades his independent Marathi film has achieved so far, and hopes to release it in cinemas soon.
Puglya, which has been showcased at and competed in various international film festivals from London, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Philippines, Turkey, Iran, Argentina, Lebanon, among others, most recently won Best Foreign Language Feature at the Moscow Film Festival and the Best Film award at The Gladiator Film Festival (Turkey) as well as the Best Director award at Onyko (Estonia).
Vinod in a Zoom chat with City Times explained the appeal of the film that was directed and written by him based on a story by Sunil Pralhad Kharade.
“My friend (a school-mate) had an idea of doing a short film and working together, because we had earlier collaborated on a music album wherein I composed and sang songs, some of which he wrote. When I heard his story for the short film, I wanted to work on a better level, on a feature. It took me around six more months to build everything around it to make it into a bigger story. So he was very happy with the way I wrote the screenplay and that’s when it culminated into a feature film.”
An uplifting story
The premise of the film revolves around a pug and two pet-loving young boys, Rushab and Datta, who hail from different economic backgrounds. One day Rushab loses his pet and Datta finds it, and Puglya is a beautiful exploration of how all their lives become interconnected.
Vinod says the uplifting story will strike a chord with all age groups.
“When you’re a kid you tend to have an attachment to a particular animal, whether it’s a cat, a dog or birds or fish… the film talks about certain things which a parent will relate to when kids nag them (about getting a pet). I have a five-year-old son and he wants a dog as a pet. My daughter wants a cat at home. Unfortunately the society doesn’t allow pets. Even I feel that we don’t need pets at home! There is a kind of connect that ‘even I was like this earlier’.
He said Puglya also has a broader theme. “The story is about two small boys who want to have a dog as a pet. But it could be anything else. There are people who would like to buy a car but they cannot afford it, and there are people who can afford it. Everyone will have some kind of connect in their lives with the several stories going on around those two kids.”
Vinod is thrilled with the attention the film is getting around the world and calls the Moscow win “equivalent to a National Award or even an Oscar”.
“It was a great feeling - Puglya doing wonders at an international level - and to represent the country is a big thing.”
Vinod gave up corporate life (and even a big promotion) to pursue his dream of filmmaking.
“I was not happy with the work that I was doing even though I was excelling in it. I always had this feeling of doing something creative; I used to do stage shows and direct office events earlier.”
He hopes his first film Puglya sets a benchmark for future independent films.
“There are so many challenges for a newcomer who has no godfather in any of the film fraternities. No one is supported by anyone. When there are no big names or stars involved, people are hesitant to look at your film and feel it will be mediocre. In Puglya the script is the hero and the actors/artists are all new.”
See it on the big screen
Vinod said Covid kind of helped turn things around as far as international recognition goes. “Last March when I had a discussion with a few distributors, they didn’t want to touch this project, because there were no names in it. Then the pandemic actually made me sit at home, browse through several festivals and apply there. And when it started getting noticed and appreciated on a global level, that’s when it started being discussed locally too. A couple of actors who were debuting in Puglya got opportunities to work in other films also.”
The pandemic has stalled the release of many films and Vinod hopes the situation improves soon. “It’s a dream for any filmmaker to make a film and release it on the big screen, and that’s something which is not happening because of this global crisis. Once we come to a better state, we will release the film which I’m sure will be loved by all. But it should actually be seen in a cinema hall.”