[I]t is no small feat for Vasan Bala to have his debut film selected for 51st Cannes Critics Week, a parallel section at Cannes Film Festival that discovered filmmakers like Bernardo Bertolucci, Ken Loach, Wong Kar Wai and Jacques Audiard. Peddlers (Halaahal) featuring Gulshan Devaiah and Kriti Malhotra will compete for the prestigious Camera d’Or at the 2012 festival.
Vasan Bala assisted Anurag Kashyap on Gulaal and Dev D and then was the associate director for Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna. The man tells us more about his debut feature Peddlers:
What is Peddlers about?
There are two parallel love stories in Peddlers—between a cop and his married neighbor and a runaway and an immigrant. It’s set in Mumbai. It’s about a woman on a mission, a man living a lie and an aimless drifter.
How did the idea originate?
It came from a character I know and the growing up that I witnessed of him. Growing up became more than just learning profound life lessons or finding a liberating career option. It was mostly accumulating scars and becoming guarded. The changes and the evolution seemed more deep rooted and damaging. All this formed the genesis of the characters in the film. It’s in the form of a thriller.
Is the film entirely shot in Mumbai? How long did the film take?
It was shot in Mumbai for 28 days and for 2 days in Pune. Mostly interiors in Pune for we could shoot there at a cheaper rate.
How did you raise finance for the film?
We put a note on Facebook and put an amount to those who responded. A very nominal one. The idea was to be honest and let all potential investors know it’s a stubborn film and not a lucrative deal. Everyone who came on board had shown tremendous faith and patience and we are relieved it has paid.
Tell us something about the shooting.
It was like running with a PD 150, no permissions, hit and run shooting style. We had a great DP and a super enthu production and direction team and of course super actors. The team pulled it off.
How do you sum up the experience of making your first feature film?
A lot of garbage in the mind was trashed. A lot of good learnt. Still learning. It’s a relief that it was not completely off mark and made a
How does it feel, having your debut feature screened at Cannes Critics Week?
Surreal. I started off wanting to just make a film…any film.
When is it expected to release theatrically?
It’s still being discussed but soon. Very soon.
Till 28, it was mostly aimlessly drifting and jumping jobs. Banks, dotcom boom sprung job options, advertising agency etc. Till one day at the ripe old age of 28, I quit it all and was found by Anurag Kashyap drifting on a blog called Passionforcinema.com. After that it has been even harder as I was doing something I loved and could not complain. So I had to keep going.