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‘Mere Haule Dost’ has a largely amateur cast, many of whom have never faced a camera before
‘Mere Haule Dost’ has a largely amateur cast, many of whom have never faced a camera before

Mere Haule Dost | Five find-outers

'Mere Haule Dost' is an XL-sized buddy movie set in Hyderabad

A group of five friends from Hyderabad prepare for a road trip and the journey of a lifetime in Nitin Raghunath’s debut feature Mere Haule Dost. The college buddies decide to take part in the Himalayan bike rally; the catch is that they are down on money and luck. Their families have largely disowned them, their benefactors are tired of their constant demands for cash, and their love lives are a mess.

The title doesn’t translate to My Slow Friends, but My Self-Deluded Friends—haule is pronounced hau-lay. “Haule means crazy, idiot, mad, lost, it’s Hyderabadi slang," Raghunath says. The easy-going, good-natured comedy will open under PVR Cinemas’ Director’s Rare banner on 7 June.

The 102-minute Hindi indie is autobiographical, as first features often tend to be.

“Most of it is borrowed from my life, but it’s also an amalgamation of many other characters," Raghunath explains. “It’s about a trip my friends and I had planned in college that didn’t happen. When you plan something like this, you do end up travelling together eventually, but you always try to outdo that first plan and come up with something crazier to overcome the regret." His way of dealing with his regret was to make a film about it.

Raghunath initially created a comic book based on the story, With Friends, but the idea of doing a movie never left him. The graphic novel will be launched at the two-day Bangalore Comic Con that starts Saturday. “My team, with whom I had made my first short film Turjya and with whom I was room-mates in college, decided to go for it," he says.

It was easier said than done. After several pitches to prospective producers, they got a financier, but he pulled out soon. Raghunath was working for a mobile gaming company at the time, and he decided that it was now or never. “If we didn’t do this now, it would be like the story of our film," he says. Mere Haule Dost was shot over a month in Hyderabad in July and financed through the savings of Raghunath and his co-producer, Pramida Posanipalli, along with support from investors and friends.

It seems that the only way to make first features is to take the friends-and-family route. “There were people who were interested in producing the film, but they said I needed to cast stars, increase the scale of the film," says Raghunath, who is planning his next movie about two conspiracy theory obsessed men who hear that the Yeti has been spotted. “I didn’t see this film on the scale of a regular mainstream Hindi movie. We wanted the film to be on TV, to be running in the background on a Sunday afternoon so that you could watch it with friends and beer. It’s light entertainment that’s a little different."

Apart from its modest budget, Mere Haule Dost betrays its first-film origins through its largely amateur cast, many of whom have never faced a camera before. Of the five buddies, only Aadil Abedi, who plays a character nicknamed Bong, has had formal training in acting. “Four of the five guys (Anirudh Loka, Raghuvardhan Garlapati, Rishit Samala and Kiran Gadalay) knew each other, they grew up together, and they had this chemistry," Raghunath says. He got them to speak in a colloquial mishmash of Hindi, Dakhini and English. “I wanted to have different kinds of Hindi, I didn’t want people to have perfect diction, I wanted the film to be about regular people in Hyderabad," he says.

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Mere Haule Dost comes on the back of several films about buddies in recent months, among them Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Kai Po Che and Go Goa Gone. The categorization can work both ways, Raghunath says. “Everybody likes love stories and everybody likes buddy films," he says. “My film is not a conscious effort to make a buddy film. It could fall either way—it could either work or go against it but as long as people talk about the film, as long it gets some attention, whether people love it and hate, it, it’s good for us."

Mere Haule Dost opens on 7 June at PVR Cinemas multiplexes. Click here for screening details.

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