With his debut feature Gali Guleiyan, filmmaker Dipesh Jain has stepped into the unconventional territory of Indian cinema, something that is unlikely of a debutant. With Manoj Bajpayee as the lead, the film also marks the debut of child actor, Om Singh, who has been selected from Salaam Baalak Trust Shelter Home.
The film is a psychological drama and is shot entirely in Old Delhi,which sets it apart from the other movies based in Delhi.
The film has already garnered praise and awards internationally. Bajpayee has called this ‘the toughest role of his career’.
Where did the idea for Gali Guleiyan come from?
I came up with the story idea when I was in film school in Los Angeles. I was working on a story about the entrapment of a man in a maze. But I was not satisfied with the story because it dealt with physical entrapment, and I wanted more. So, I was doing a research on child violence and started meeting a lot of people. I thought it would be great if I could combine the story of entrapment in Old Delhi, along with a parallel narrative of child abuse. Eventually, I merged these two and that’s where the story of Gali Guleiyan came from.
The entire film was shot in Old Delhi. What were the challenges that you faced during the location shooting?
It was a very tough location to shoot at with thousands of people crammed in a space. As the film deals with isolation, creating that sense of seclusion in that chaotic space was tough. Compound that with hundreds and thousands –— and that’s how challenging it was. But then you have these great actors —Manoj Bajpayee, Neeraj Kabi, Ranvir Shorey, Shahana Goswami and Om Singh.
You auditioned more than 2,000 young boys for Idris’ role (character played by child actor Om Singh). What made you select Om for it?
Om is a bundle of talent. He has not acted before but the main thing that I was looking for was a kid who was innocent, yet broken — which is very tough to find. When I saw him, he had a charming smile, but when I looked into his eyes, I could see the sadness. Also, he has gone through child abuse himself. So, when I met him, I knew he was the one.
Since it’s your debut film, what are you biggest takeaways from it?
The biggest takeaway is that one should stick to their terms and tell stories that they want to tell. No compromises should be made and one should be ready to take all the risks. Gali Gulieyan is a risky film to make at any level of career, because it is a psychological thriller with few dialogues. So, I took all the risks possible in my first feature film. Internationally it has been appreciated. Now we just want to see it pay off in India.
How was it working with Manoj Bajpayee?
It was excellent! He is an institution in himself and we really clicked from day one. His idea of the character and mine were completely in sync. So we were not debating or arguing on the sets but just working peacefully in a creative space.