When 'Torrents' crossed paths with 'Geet': Meet Ketan and Helly, the makers of 'Rhoya'
Posted on 5 June, 2017 by Team Wishberry
Ketan and Helly are in the process of crowdfunding for their first independent full-length feature film, Rhoya, on Wishberry. Rhoya is the story of a 20-something girl and her dreams. She is ambitious, a go-getter and is of the firm belief that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve what you want! However, like in life, things soon go awry for Rhoya. Disaster strikes. Will Rhoya be able to turn the tide in her favour, now that the odds are stacked against her?
Ketan and Helly have set a target of Rs. 12 Lakhs and have managed to pull in more than Rs. 7 Lakhs. We decided to chat with them to try and understand what goes on in the mind of today’s filmmaker — from being told off by the ‘industry’, to deciding that enough is enough!
Hi guys! To begin with, tell us what do you want to tell the world through Rhoya.
Ketan: I would describe it... We want it to be a wake-up call for people who have passion, for people who have a dream, but who are not doing their best to go for it... because a lot of people have talent and skill, but they give in to their excuses and responsibilities. Rhoya is a black comedy and people will laugh, and at the same time they will realise that the satire is directed towards them.
Is Rhoya a personal film?
Ketan: Rhoya is very autobiographical. Yes, it is a fictitious story about fictitious people, but the running themes explore how all of us get pressurized by legends about the industry and about dreams in general. This is what we can write about right now… this is what we are feeling. Therefore, we decided that this should be our first film.
Helly: We had people around us who kept saying that nothing happens... they are writers and filmmakers like us...
Ketan and I believe that if you don’t make it, then it’s your fault.
Was Rhoya a wake-up call for you as well?
K: It absolutely was... Martin Scorsese has said that there is no industry and he said this in relation to up-and-coming creators... he said that if you want to make a film then you should just go out and make a film… the things that you need are a camera, an actor and the story and the money to make the film… that's all there is…
H: We also did our bit... we made a music video first... we also made a short film… so, we got the hang of filmmaking and we realised that it is not that difficult.
How did filmmaking happen for the two of you?
H: I always wanted to become an actress... but it was a very difficult truth to tell at home. You know how it goes... I had a room all to myself and everybody would think that I am studying, but I would just stand in front of the mirror and practice! I was influenced by films like Rang De Basanti and roles like that of Kareena’s in Jab We Met... But everybody in my family is either an engineer or doctor. So, I pursued engineering. But then I figured out that I needed to be in Mumbai to chase my dream, so I decided to pursue a course in media.
K: I used to read a lot, but whenever I would imagine anything, it would always be in the film format... for example, Harry Potter. I would actually read it with the Warner Brothers' logo and somehow it would always be directed by Ketan Pedgaonkar... it was very silly. And once I had access to Torrents, I realised that you can actually make a great film... Because with Indian films they were all these high-budget films led by Karan Johar and the likes, where either you're saving the country or you are marrying someone! But with torrents, I was introduced to filmmakers such as Alexander Payne and to films such as Nebraska and The King's Speech...
Post the two years at SIMC, we were different people.
Do you guys fight a lot?
K: There is a lot of friction between us, sometimes a little too much, but we believe in each other and in what the film Rhoya wants to say. We believe it is not about our personal opinion. It is about what the film needs.
H: We believe that whatever fight or friction we have shouldn't affect the output of the film.
K: If you have a common endpoint then it really helps… it's what the film needs…
Ketan always says that a feature film is actually 3 20-minute short films
Filmmaking seems very important for you. Why did you decide to crowdfund?
H: So when we were pitching the film, we were told that either 'you need a star in your movie', which meant that I couldn't act, or that ‘you need an experienced director’, which meant that Ketan couldn't direct. We heard this a lot. Moreover, we were sure that even if we went to production houses, we wouldn't be able to do what we really wanted to do… What we believe in is that if you have a great story, then it will work.
K: Even Wishberry has been around for a long time and Wishberry films are on Netflix... it is the same with crowdfunding. It is being called a new format, but it is not so new. It is yet another way of making something unique... the concept is not new.
Whatever we were writing before Rhoya, we were sort of writing for others.
But how does one make a full-length feature with just a few lakhs?
H: The first thing that we decided was that we need to find the right people, because we knew we wouldn't be able to pay those working for us. For example, our cinematographer is a friend. The casting director is actually a teacher who had come to our college once. He brought us all those actors who were ready to work with us… FOR FREE... We decided to work in real environments.
K: See, this is the age of the DSLR... For example, we are shooting with the A7S Mark II (Sony)... it's a really small camera but big films are being shot with it... and it has very good quality output… so, we can simply go round the city filming with it. We also decided to trim down the crew... this in turn means that we don't have to pay a lot of people… it is a good way to cut down on operational cost.
We were also inspired by Anurag Kashyap who has said that when you do not have a set the city becomes your set.
But doesn’t crowdfunding go against the very grain of conventional filmmaking?
K: I think that crowdfunding is an opportunity. For example, even commercial films begin their marketing way ahead of their release. With Dangal, the poster for the film came out more than a year before its filming even began… And especially for independent films, they don't have this kind of marketing machinery... so when you launch a crowdfunding campaign people start getting to know about your project… we are essentially marketing the film even before it is made.
H: There are people who are messaging and telling us that they are waiting for our film… these are people I haven't been in touch with... so I think that this is very good marketing for our film and that they are going to watch it...
K: Now, we are under the pressure that we have to make a good film and that is good for us… it is brilliant!
Where does Rhoya stand as a project today?
K: The rehearsals are done, the actors are ready. We're just waiting for the filming to begin... the locations have been locked… we're just waiting for the money to come in so that we can start shooting. That is where we stand right now… everything is ready. We're ready...
Final question guys: Which aspect of filmmaking do you most enjoy?
H: For me acting is something that I enjoy the most if you consider the entire gamut of filmmaking… the other thing that I enjoy is production.
K: For me I think it is music, because everything has rhythm... even acting has a rhythm, editing has rhythm… the video that you see is just a... it is visual music.
Check out Rhoya’s crowdfunding campaign here.