First ever Gujarati film, ‘Narsinh Mehta’, was released in 1932. Most Gujarati films were set in rural parts of Gujarat and were made for the rural audience until 2012. First ever urban Gujarati film ‘Kevi Rite Jaish’ came to screens in 2012 and then the landscape of Gujarati cinema changed. After ‘Kevi Rite Jaish’, many filmmakers joined the bandwagon and made hundreds of Gujarati films for the urban audience. Last year, for the first time, a Gujarati film ‘Wrong Side Raju’ won National Award for the best feature film in Gujarati language. It was indeed a proud moment for the Gujarati cinema.
This year, while entire Hindi film industry and other regional cinema had their eyes on the National award for the best feature film across all languages, a small team of new filmmakers had their fingers crossed for their film. First time in the history of National awards and Gujarati cinema, a Gujarati film, ‘Hellaro’, was declared Best Film across all languages. Along with the National Award for Best Feature Film, ‘Hellaro’ also won special jury award at 66th National Film Awards for performance of 13 actresses in the film.
Reaction of the team on winning National Award is priceless.
Based on Gujarat’s folk dance form, Garba, Hellaro focuses on self-expression of women with more than 13 actresses in the story. The set of “Hellaro” was created in the middle of the vast desert in the Kutch region of Gujarat. More than 450 costumes were prepared to give the traditional feel of life at Kutch and the shoot of the film lasted for 35 days in the scorching summer heat of Kutch’s desert.
Hellaro is directed by Abhishek Shah who has been working in Gujarati theatre since the past 17 years as a writer, director and actor and has received numerous awards for his plays. He has also worked as a casting director for 12 films. He shared his view on his film winning National Awards,
“When I was thinking about the story of the film, Sharad Poonam was going on and the background of the story was our folk dance Garba and therefore the idea of making this film turned out to be a reality,”.
Saumya Joshi who is a well-known poet-writer-playwright and author of the Hindi film “102 Not Out” and is also famous in the Gujarati theatre and poetry world, is the lyricist and dialogue writer of the film. The music of the film is composed by Mehul Surti.