Acclaimed filmmaker Suneel Kumar Reddy is currently making a film on international migration situation named Gulf. The film, being made in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam languages, is a collage of experiences of the migrants reaching Gulf nations in search of better lives. Recently, Reddy participated in the International Migration Forum held in Dhaka.
Showtime caught up with the South Indian filmmaker to learn about his latest endeavour and zooms in on the issue.
When did you first develop the film’s idea?
The news reports are what sparked ideas for my films. When I found thousands of youth are migrating to the Gulf region and facing lots of hardship, my curiosity on the subject increased. After meeting a girl at an airport, who was flying to the Gulf not knowing anything about the foreign land, an idea shaped in my mind to make a film on this subject. To my surprise, very few films were made on such an important issue. That is the actual reason which prompted me to plan this film.
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Even before preparing the film’s script, you visited countries in the Gulf region to understand the issue. How did these visits shape the idea of your film?
As a journalist, I wish to do thorough research before approaching a script. All my previous films were made after understanding all dimensions of the issue. Initially, I visited all the regions in my home state to understand the reasons for migration.
Then I visited UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar to meet the migrants in labour camps and various NGOs working on this issue to get first hand information. Indian embassies also provided me insights about migration. I met many successful entrepreneurs there and also many locals who were very supportive. Those trips were very enriching and they shaped my script in more realistic fashion.
How the situation of workers have portrayed in the film?
I tried to be realistic in my approach towards making the film. I tried to showcase their emotions and their small celebrations in their work place. It is the separation from their families which hurts them the most. I found many heroes there who sacrificed their youth and comfort for the well being of their families.
Do you believe this film could be an educative one for potential migrants?
I found lack of proper knowledge of the migrating country is the major reason for many problems. Some migrants fall prey to the touts and bring illegal substances and end up in jail.
Not entering the country with valid visas and becoming illegal immigrants is the major problem there. Here, in this film, we tried to educate the viewers about the safe migration and the pitfalls they might face if they don’t follow the law of the land.
Since the film concerns situation of migrant workers from the South Asian countries in the Gulf, do you have any plan to release the film all over South Asia?
After visiting almost all the GCC nations. I wanted it to be a South Asian cinema not just a regional Indian cinema, as the problems faced and the reasons of migrations are similar. We are trying to release the film with subtitles in English, Bengali, Urdu, Sinhalese and Nepali in all the South Asian markets.
Did you cast non-actor immigrant workers in Gulf? What's your thought behind this?
Chetan Maddineni and Dimple are acting as the main leads in this film. They are well trained artists. Santhosh, Anil, Surya, Digvijay, Tirrtha and many more senior artists from the South Indian industry have acted in this film.
We also have many immigrant workers enact their own characters. Lucky for me, all the artists are very committed to the script and they did their level best. You can expect some stunning emotional portrayals in this film.
Your production company Sravya Films has been supporting low-budget realistic films for a long time. How is it challenging to work in such conditions where big-budget action flicks dominate the industry?
It is true that the big ticket action flicks always give a tough challenge to budget films. But lucky for us now, the audiences are appreciating well-made, meaningful cinema. We in Sravya Films will always see to that the audience get the best visual experience. Supported by senior technicians we promise our audience with a well made film. We got a good number of successful films from our banner because of our commitment to good cinema.