Magazine article Screen International

Gyan Correa, the Good Road

Magazine article Screen International

Gyan Correa, the Good Road

Article excerpt

Director Gyan Correa talks to Liz Shackleton about his debut feature The Good Road, selected by India as its official entry for the best foreign-language Oscar category.

A middle-class couple and their son; a small girl on the run; and a weary truck driver and his assistant are all travelling through the eerily beautiful landscape on the borders of the Rann of Kutch. When the couple lose their child, the three groups begin to collide and new family units are formed, transforming all the characters in ways they never expected.

Filmed on location in the Indian state of Gujarat, Gyan Correa's debut feature The Good Road touches on several social problems -- a divided society, child prostitution and the harsh life of India's truck drivers -- but it is character-driven, rather than issue-based. "My film is about small people," Correa explains. "The whole idea was to give a voice to people who are normally never heard."

A Mumbai-based film-maker with a background in directing commercials, Correa spent several months researching the film by hitchhiking and travelling with the truck drivers who transport goods along the arteries of India. "There's a whole different system that takes place on our highways that transcends caste, culture and community," Correa says.

During the writing process, Correa wanted to ensure that the story was firmly rooted in a particular region of India. He was drawn to the culture and landscape of the Kutch region of Gujarat -- a vast area encompassing desert, salt marshes and grasslands -- but made his final decision on setting during casting when he met real-life truck driver Shamji Dhana Kerasia, one of several non-professional actors in the film.

"We looked at a lot of very good actors but figured it would be easier to put an actor into a driver than a driver into an actor," Correa says. The decision to cast Kerasia also determined that the film would be Gujarati-language, as it would have "sounded comic" to have him speaking in Hindi.

Correa doesn't speak Gujarati, but as a commercials director working in multilingual India, has filmed in many languages, and feels that sometimes not understanding a language can be an advantage. "You can get distracted by language, but when you don't know it you're just going with the raw emotion. …

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