Actor Ajay Gehi recounts the journey of The Good Road to being selected as India’s entry to The Oscars
Ajay Gehi never imagined that The Good Road would be India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at The Oscars. “We had hoped that the film would get a decent audience and our hard work be recognised. We were surprised to see it won a National Award and was selected for The Oscars.”
Ajay first heard about the selection from a journalist. “A reporter called to ask how I felt after The Good Road was selected for The Oscars. It came as a surprise. I told her, ‘I think you’ve got the wrong number.’ I called up my team to clarify,” says the model-turned-actor.
Ajay plays David, the father of a seven-year-old boy in the small-budget regional film. “He is humorous and has a carefree outlook on life,” he says of his role.
The most challenging part of the role, as Ajay has often said, was learning Gujarati. He had assistants teaching him and listened to a CD of a recording of his lines.
The Good Road, written and directed by Gyan Correa, depicts the interweaving of multiple narratives, set against Gujarat. Ajay contends that the film depicts the true spirit of India. “Previously, India has been projected in a stereotypical manner as a country that is poor and backward. The Good Road shows people from different walks of life who go through a lot of hardship and emerge triumphant. That is how Indians are. And that spirit has been shown in the film.”
Ajay’s journey from a model to an actor has had its share of ups and downs, but he has made some good choices.
Besides doing a slew of ad films, he has featured in the television serial Milee and acted in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Maqbool and Mani Ratnam’s Raavan, among others. “Honestly, when it comes to choosing roles, I go with my gut feeling. If it feels right, I go for it.” Going on to say that he likes to do “good work”, Ajay adds that it is important for him to move out of his comfort zone. “TV gives you fame, money and stability, but you have to move on. I always like to stretch myself and not stay in one place for too long.”
There have been comparisons between The Lunchbox, directed by Ritesh Batra, and The Good Road. Ajay argues that the two films cannot be compared. “The Lunchbox is a Hindi film and The Good Road is a Gujarati film. It’s unfair to compare the two. Also, small budget films seldom get recognition, it’s good if they find a platform.”