24-year-old Junaid has been working in the Bollywood film industry for the last 7 years. ‘From background dancer to assistant director, I have done it all.’ After gathering knowledge about films and filmmaking, he started making his own short films and short documentary films. He felt motivated to continue when movie lovers started to appreciate his work. Uribo, his latest project, is his jump into feature films. We find out more about the film and what viewers can expect.
Uribo tells the story of Pokchi and her mother. It is based on some real life incidents. I was visiting Sikkim from Bagdogra for the first time. And I always wanted to visit those lush green tea gardens on the way to Sikkim, because it reminded me of the beautiful landscapes we would see in Bollywood films. Like women picking tea leaves and singing. So out of curiosity, I went to meet the people working in the gardens, I interacted with them and reality struck me when I could feel how hard they worked the whole day and getting paid peanuts at the end of it. The depression level was high and every second person was addicted to local alcohol. It was literally killing them. Not only them, but it was sucking out the childhood out of their children. Parents spend all their money on alcohol or drugs and the lack of money would hinder their education. It was about people I didn’t know personally, but they were voices unheard. So I started developing a story of a mother and her daughter who just bid farewell to the man who succumbs to alcohol poisoning and how they survive.
Tell us a little about the cast and crew.
For casting, I went to discuss the idea with one of my friends who is from Siliguri. She introduced me to DilKumari Shrestha, a Nagamese-Gorkhali from Arunachal Pradesh. Dil had a little daughter and her name was Manisha. They portray the mother and daughter you can see on the poster.
After casting the lead roles, we started shooting and we kept meeting different people for roles. Poonam Gurung, also born in Nagaland, helped me with the casting and she was the only professional actress on board. Having a lot Nagamese actors, they insisted to keep the dialogues in Nagamese to ensure the film is more authentic.
Did you have any sort of funding or have you produced it yourself?
Uribo was never planned. And when I thought of it, the things I didn’t have were finances and resources. But the story couldn’t go untold. I managed to use my saving and shoot with whatever equipment I could gather. I somehow was able to complete the shooting. But the film was still incomplete. Even after editing, the sound and post production was remaining. It took quite some time but few people from the industry started showing interest and they came on board to help me. I can’t thank them enough.
Do you intend to release it in theatres or do you plan to send it to festivals first?
Uribo has already started running for festivals and by the end of this month we will start hearing from them. As far as a release is concerned, I don’t think people will go to theatres to watch a film that shows a mirror to the society. This is India and we still want to pretend that those lush green tea gardens are home to a bunch of people working, singing and dancing happily.