Nitin Raghunath’s dream to make a film comes true with his Mere Haule Dost hitting the screens this week

Every time independent filmmaker Nitin Raghunath used to get together with friends, they would end up talking about the bike trip that never happened. This Friday, the trip finally comes true on the big screen as his film Mere Haule Dost gets a nationwide seven-city limited release through PVR’s Director’s Rare.

“Back in 2008, of all the treatments I was pitching, this was the one that got the most attention and it even had a very short-lived studio backing. I didn’t want the film to die, so I started working on a comic book version of the film. But the itch to make this film never left me,” recalls Nitin.

He had to make it. Nitin and his co-producer/wife had been working in California for eight years. “We financed it from our savings and a few friends helped out. The biggest challenge as an independent filmmaker is to make the best use of one’s resources and it took all our energies in finding unique solutions for making it work,” he adds.

Inspiration came in the form of a book. “After reading a book titled, Making Feature Films at Used Car Prices’, I set out with my friends to make a film called Turjya in 2003. We travelled across India shooting a man in search of immortality. Even though we couldn’t afford used cars at that time, the experience was incredible and I realised that was my favourite medium.”

“I love science fiction, action and adventure films and admire the works of Stanley Kubrick, Wong Kar Wai, Mani Ratnam and so many others. I want to make fun films that are distilled not only through my own experiences but also create new imaginative and experimental stories. As long as the audience engages with my stories, I am happy,” he says.

How easy or difficult has the journey been? Nitin is candid. “We haven't technically sold our film yet. But getting distribution was a long-drawn process. We came to know about PVR’s Director’s rare initiative. Thanks to PVR’s support, we now have a platform to showcase our work.”

Mere Haule Dost, (Hyderabadi for ‘my crazy friends’), features a bundle of new talent. “We wanted that energy of college going kids in the film. A month-long workshop with the boys finalised their roles. The scale of our film demanded people open to working in a start-up mode set-up and willing to go the extra mile for the film. So it was great working with them. They were open, willing to experiment and did everything possible to support the film not only during the shoot but also after.”

Sounds like how Nagesh Kukunoor made Hyderabad Blues? “I saw Hyderabad Blues with all my seniors and classmates at Sangeet Theatre in Hyderabad. We mass-bunked college to go watch the film. I also heard him at a conference. He certainly made it seem possible for all aspiring filmmakers and I also really enjoy his movies. Similarly, the foothold that Shekhar Kammula has gained in the Telugu industry is remarkable. The route that people such as Nagesh Kukunoor, Shekhar Kammula and Raj & DK have taken is an inspiration and validation that there are opportunities for people like us. In terms of filmmaking itself, each of them has a different and unique style and hope that I would be able to carve out my own niche,” says Nitin.