New Delhi: From being a broke 24-year-old to directing a National-award-winning film that will represent India at the Oscars, life has come a full circle for Chaitanya Tamhane with his debut movie "Court".
Tamhane, 28, says he never expected the Marathi film to have the kind of journey that it has but it was a story that he always believed in.
"I feel very fortunate and grateful for the way it has been received. We did not make the movie with that many expectations. We were not sure what will happen but we were surprised constantly. It is my debut film so it is a great feeling," Chaitanya told PTI over phone from Tokyo. He is there to attend a film festival.
"Court" saw off competition from 29 other films including "Killa", "NH 10", "Bajrangi Bhaijaan", "Baahubali", "Haider" and "Masaan" to be named as India's official entry to the Oscars yesterday.
The director says the announcement came as a surprise as they had kept their expectations low, considering the unpredictability around the selection. He and his producer-actor friend Vivek Gomber are now in touch with their US and French distributors to take their campaign forward for the Oscars next year.
"Vivek plans to rely on the expertise of our distributors. They are quite experienced and they have had a few films which have won Oscars and have been nominated. Our Paris-based distributors are also involved. We plan to reach out to Indian producers who had their films as official entry to Oscars. We hope to have a plan in place once we return to India."
The road to success has not been easy for Chaitanya, who first started writing the film when he was 24.
"I was 24, broke, with no money and there was a lot of pressure from my family to earn. Till that time, I had done my own projects like a play, a short film and a documentary but that did not earn me any money. I was very depressed at that time.
"Vivek was a friend and I had directed him in a play. He knew that I wanted to develop an idea and that was 'Court'. He offered to help me as a friend and said I will give you a monthly stipend to sustain yourself, you go and develop your script. I wrote 'Court' in a year and after some research. Vivek read the script and decided to produce it."
"Court" revolves around the trial of a folk singer. Chaitanya says it was challenging and expensive to shoot the film in Mumbai. "There were many challenges. We had a big cast of non- professional actors and shooting in Mumbai is very expensive. Also, people have very set ways of working because they have worked in Bollywood and this was a different way of filmmaking but in the end it worked out well for us."
Asked whether there was any pressure to deliver after the phenomenal success of "Court", Chaitanya says he is trying not to take things seriously.
"The appreciation gives me confidence and courage to do my kind of work but I can't take it very seriously. I don't want that responsibility. I don't want it to cripple my vision. I don't want to start second guessing my instincts."