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The Great Indian Road Movie was shot across 17 states in 2 months: Producer Abhilash S Pillai

The film won two awards at the LIFFT India Filmotsav — Best Producer, awarded to Pillai, and Best Child Actor (Male), which went to the protagonist Master Ashray.

Suparna Thombare

Director Sohan Lal's The Great Indian Road Movie, a film that travels through 17 states and shows us the various sights and characteristics of India through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy, was screened at the LIFFT India Filmotsav on Sunday 9 December 2018.

The film won two awards at the festival which ended yesterday — Best Producer, awarded to Abhilash S Pillai, and Best Child Actor (Male), that went to the protagonist Master Ashray.

In the film, the boy, who is blind since birth, starts seeing after a surgery. He wishes to see the country and his father takes him on a journey through India — the proverbial Kanyakumari to Kashmir trip — passing through several cities, including Delhi, Kolkata, Shillong, Mumbai and Manali. Without much money at hand, the duo slum it out.

Pillai, whose son Ashray played the lead role in the film, later spoke to Cinestaan.com about how gruelling the shoot turned out to be.

"Many of the scenes were shot in difficult terrain," said Pillai, himself an avid traveller. "The double-decker bridge you saw near Cherrapunji, for example. That is a steep climb of around 3,000 steps. It's about three and a half kilometres of travel both ways. To take the whole crew, equipment and a kid there and shooting there was quite difficult."

The producer also had to make sure the crew remains in good health considering that their food, weather conditions and water were changing every few days.

The film was shot in over two months, with a budget of Rs1.5 crore. The entire film is seen through the child's eyes, who is soaking in all the sights for the first time in his life. "All the locations and sights are viewed from the eyes of a child who has just started seeing," Pillai explained.

While the core of the story remained the same, Pillai said the screenplay changed completely once the shooting began. "The script that was narrated to me was a different one," he said. "But when we started travelling, the script got changed according to our travel. So, the final film doesn't resemble the original script at all."

Pillai has plans to release the film in theatres some time next year.

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