Weaving a powerful Gudh


A Nepali language short film Gudh (Nest) was selected to compete at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in French Riveria this year. The 29-minute film by filmmaker Saurav Rai, that represented India at the Cannes, competed at the Cannes Cinefondation series.

Gudh competed for the best film from 17 other entries from film schools around the world in the competition. “I was proud to represent our film, be able to compete with best of the minds, what more can one ask for?” Rai, who hails from Baramangwa Basti, Rangli Rangliot, Darjeeling, India shared with The Himalayan Times in a Facebook interview.

Born on October 10, 1986, Rai loves images, which keep playing in his mind. “But it has to be evocative as well. For a long time, I had an urge to express my childhood days as it comes to mind.”

That’s how he ended up making Gudh. The film reminisces those childhood memories, which perhaps everyone went through in life. It’s about Ajay, his childhood, his love for his mother, his village, its ongoing revolution and the changes it brings forth.

As a child, Rai spent some time in Kathmandu as well. And Kathmandu was “very instrumental” in shaping his character. “During the 90s we had the best of the worlds. There are so many moments etched in my memories — be it going swimming along with my brother to Nakhu Khola, Hatiban, Chobhar Gufa, exploring the City riding on Vikram tempo and fleeing without paying at the next traffic stop,” he recalled, adding, “I wonder whether children do that nowadays?”

Probably these memories of his childhood and more helped him weave his Gudh. “I believe every human being has a series of memories of childhood, some sad as well as happy ones. I too had some vivid memories. I ended up weaving a thread of surreal images, some true and some imaginative from my memory bank.”

And his affinity to cinema developed from Kathmandu during the early 90s when Nepal TV was the only television channel here. “We used to eagerly wait for Saturday because the channel by 2:30 pm used to broadcast some of the old Hindi classics. I fondly remember watching films like Pushpak, Appu Raja, Masoom. I guess those were the days when I started developing my affinity for cinema.”

Back in Darjeeling, he graduated with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from St Joseph’s College, Darjeeling (2007-2010), and then joined Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institution (SRFTI) in November 2011 and finished the course by early 2016.

At SRFTI, he explored his love for cinema, making films like Gudh and gaining international recognition. Gudh has also been selected to compete at the 18th Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival, being held from June 9-16, Israel.

Rai is thankful for SRFTI for this opportunity. “SRFTI has been like a mother, who nurtured me and exposed the best possible experiences that any cinema enthusiast can ever ask for. But more than that it gave me time to understand myself and I guess that is what reflects in my cinema as well.”

A film enthusiast may don diverse roles — direction, script writing, or acting, or something else. But he prefers direction among others. “I believe one can play as many roles, but for me being able to share my world through direction is the ultimate feeling.”

He stole the show at Cannes, will make an impression in Israel, and for those looking forward to his next work, Rai shared, “There are a couple of ideas I’m working on. Let’s see how it goes from here.”