Nitin Raghunath, director of the coming-of-age film, ‘Mere Haule Dost’, talks about how the film set in Hyderabad is still universal

You cannot call a movie Mere Haule Dost (MHD) and not expect it to be looked at as a Hyderabadi film! “You wouldn’t call Delhi Belly a Delhi film would you?” counters Nitin Raghunath, the director of the film, who’s also launching the comic book, With Friends, based on the film.

Nitin talks about the inherent contradiction. “It is a universal film. It just so happens that the characters live in Hyderabad.”

The film tells the story of five friends who decide to go on the Himalayan Bike Rally and their efforts to raise money for it.

There is the usual sprinkling of fights, parties, friendship and girls. While the haule (a multi-purpose Dakhni adjective/noun/verb broadly meaning loser or loony) in the title sets the film in Hyderabad, the locations are not noticeably Hyderabad and Dakhni is only used sparingly.

“We had to fight against The Angrez (Kuntaa Nikhil’s hilarious 2006 film) stereotype,” the 34-year-old commented.

“Nikhil’s film was hilarious. But now every movie out of Hyderabad is expected to be a comedy set in the old city with liberal use of Dakhni. I would describe MHD as a coming of age movie, a slice of life of these five friends. It was designed like a studio sitcom, you know how, say Friends, could be set anywhere but a skyline sets it in New York.”

After completing his graduation at Bhawan’s, Nitin went on to study design in NID, Delhi.

Making films was always a dream and though Nitin earlier made films such as “Turjya, Kashish (Selected for Cannes Short film Corner 2011) and Explorer (San Francisco Short Film Festival),” he quit his job as a designer in California last year to plunge headlong into filmmaking.

“Being in Silicon Valley, you get the start-up mentality. The film has been in the making for the longest time. In 2008, we almost got it made but one of the producers pulled out. We thought we shouldn’t lose the story, hence the comic book. Though it was not planned that way, both the film and the comic book have come out simultaneously.”

While the bike rally is a catalyst for the events in MHD, it isn’t the focal point. “Yes that is by design. It is based on my experiences, when I was in college; we would talk a lot about doing something but not do anything. The film is born out of the regret of having a goal and not actively pursuing it.”

With 90 per cent of the film shot in Sainikpuri (the Old City does not feature and biryani and haleem only get passing mentions), Nitin said a conscious decision was taken to keep all dialogues in Hindi.

“Yes we did toy with the idea of having the father and grandfather speak in Telugu. We even got a writer to write the dialogues in Telugu but then we decided to keep it in Hindi. There are so many different Hindi accents, we thought this way we can promote wider acceptance of accents. Also I felt the film gained an interesting texture with the different accents.”

When you think of 20 something lads, by default there would be a stoner among them but MHD does not even have smokers! “I am anti-smoking and really believe people should quit and lead healthy lives and a stoner character did not fit into the stories.”

Among all the foul mouthed films coming out these days, MHD stands out with its vanilla language. “I don’t swear when I am with friends and didn’t see any reason to include profanities, despite which I was surprised to get an ‘A’ certificate for the film!” Next in the pipeline is “a docu comedy about two guys who are conspiracy theorists in search of the yeti. After reading Tintin in Tibet I have been fascinated with the yeti.”

Describing the shoot of MHD as “an intense 30-day shoot,” Nitin says one of the bonuses of indie film making is “people help you out. When we started we were strangers but by the end of the shoot I made some really good friends. It is incredibly difficult to make something with so little resources. I always say everyone on the film made the film. MHD is made by 70 people.”

Mere Houle Dost is being released on PVR Director's Rare June 7 all over the country.