When Gujarati film industry was almost dead, this filmmaker from Surat dared to make a Gujarati film. A physiotherapist turned filmmaker Naitik Raval was the first new-age director to try hands on Gujarati film. His first film Chaar opened gates to new genre, new films. His first film grabbed four Transmedia awards in 2011 and his second film Je Pan Kahish E Sachuj Kahish won 5 awards at GIFA last year and a Transmedia award this year. Apart from feature films, Naitik Raval makes TVCs, short films, corporate films, documentaries under his brand Gallops Talkies. Have a look at our conversation with Naitik Raval.
Tell us something about you.
I was born and brought up in Surat. After 12th grade, I studied Physiotherapy at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Science in Mangalore, Karnataka. I practiced for about a year after graduation and then went to Mumbai to pursue my dream of being a filmmaker.I studied a degree course in direction from Zee Institute of Media Arts.
Since then I am in Mumbai and it has been 10 long years now. During these 10 years I have done a lot of creative work and learned a lot about practicality of cinema.
When did you realize that physiotherapy is not for you?
Film making was always there at the back of my mind. Basically I wanted to entertain people. That is what I realized when I started making short films during my internship. Simple 1 minute short film on my phone would bring so much adrenaline boost to me that I slowly and steadily decided that this is what I wanted to be. The films were very amateur and hence I decided to study direction in a proper way.
How Surat treated you during your childhood?
I love Surat. The vibes, the people, the food and everything about it. I have had the best time in Surat –my childhood. Navratri was fun, typical society Garba we used to love. The floods, the earthquake, everything was so special about Surat.
Who has been your motivation in life?
Wooh! There are so many! My biggest motivation is my father. He is a true fighter and a gem of a person and I have always wanted to be like him. I am still trying hard to get close of what he is. If we talk about directors, Ram Gopal Varma is my biggest motivation followed by Mahesh Bhatt.
Describe your professional journey so far.
It is long.. really long. I have done a lot of various jobs in television and the film industry.
When you do not know about something then that thing looks very easy. Like when I was in college I used to think Mumbai gaaya matlab ban gaya director! But it is not like that!
My journey is really interesting (at-least for me). I belong to a middle class family. First thing which was going through my mind was that I have to earn because I am already 24. My friends had started settling in their lives and I was still completing the course and about to start new journey. I joined a serial as an assistant director the very next day I stepped out of the institute. It was an internship. I used to wake up at 5 AM to catch a bus to reach set which took me 2 hours. I worked for whole day and once my shift gets completed I catch a return bus at 12 AM in the night and reach home by 2 AM. This was my schedule for 3 months.
At the end of 3rd month I was promoted as chief assistant director and my payment started. At the end of the 4th month, I figured out that this is not what I came for. I somehow didn’t like the grammar.
I was craving for cinema. I left the job. I started making short films again and this time I showed them to various film production houses. Luckily was entertained by associate director of Vishesh Films and I joined there as assistant director but to my bad luck the project got delayed and I was again jobless.
I had no option but to go back to serials. This time it was Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hein. I joined the serial as a creative.
After working there for 6 months and having a healthy back up financially I left the job to move on. Now I was out to make my own film. That is when Chaar happened. After Chaar, I was offered to act in serials and took it. I worked in Niharika, Shakuntala and Chutta Chheda. These are a few of them. Meanwhile, I also opened my own Production House named Gallops Entertainment where we make Corporates, Television Commercials and Documentaries.
Which Gujarati movie has been your favourite?
There are many I must say. I love Santu Rangili, Dariya Choru, Bhav Ni Bhavai, Ramat Ramade Ram. Of course I love Bey Yaar.
Tell us something about your debut film Chaar.
Chaar was written, co-produced and directed by me. I also played one of the main leads. It was like growing a lotus in a desert. People were not paying attention to Gujarati Cinema. Films were not made according to their taste, no distributors and no theatres. We felt like a soldier in war without weapons. But we managed. The film got good response to theatres where it was released. We couldn’t reach wide although because of lack of the ecosystem. Chaar bagged 4 awards out of which I had bagged two – Best Story and Best screenplay. The film bagged Best Film and our actor Hiten Kumar was awarded Best Actor at Transmedia awards.
Tell us something about Je Pan Khaish E Sachuj Kahish.
This film is very close to me. Again it was a challenge, if people will accept this kind of cinema in Gujarati or not.
Je Pan Khaish E Sachuj Kahish is story of two characters stuck in one house. It is a thriller ride, which will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout the film.
Share an experience you had with the cast and crew of Je Pan Khaish E Sachuj Kahish.
It was wonderful. We lived like a family. My artists, Gaurav and Sneha literally had tears in their eyes on last day of shoot. They said, ‘Chalone haji shoot kariye!’ It is always a team work when it comes to making films and luckily I had a crew which took it as their own film and not merely giving presence on set and going back. My producer was always there in my support as he gave me all the liberties. My Assistant Directors were on their toes 24 x 7, DOP, Art Directors even the spot were so nice that they took care of us like we were at home. Overall it was wonderful experience.
How according to you has the Gujarati film industry changed?
The scenario has changed a lot. Film making has changed a lot. I earlier mentioned the name of some old Gujarati films which were made on celluloid hence were very costly. The director used to do something called as SHOT DIVISION. In a scene few shots were taken close and few in wide according to the dialogues and situation in film. This is missing these days. Because digitization has given the opportunity to take as many shots as you can. Although it is good that people have started coming back to theaters, thanks to hard working directors like Ashish Kakkad, Abhishek Jain, Tejas Padia, Vijaygiri Bawa and many more.
What is your message for aspiring filmmakers?
It is not going happen suddenly. Rome was not built in a day. Keep patience and follow your goal. It is hard but if you stick to it you will definitely reach there one day!
We, team BuddyBits, wish you all the best for all your future endeavors.