Model-turned-actor Ajay Gehi, seen in a pivotal role in the Gujarati movie The Good Road, India's official entry to the best foreign film category section at the Oscars this year, is sure that it will embark on the road to glory.
"I'm confident about 'The Good Road' as its narrative is unique," Gehi said. "It has an original, well-crafted script and a very enthusiastic and talented team. I'm very confident of 'The Good Road' making it (to the Oscars), but at the same time keeping my fingers crossed and counting all the wishes sent to me," Gehi told IANS in an e-mail interaction.
The directorial debut of Gyan Correa, the film bagged the National Award for the best feature film this year. It was the opening film at the Indian Film Festival of Houston and even won the Best Feature Film Award at the gala.
It reportedly outdid 21 films, including Ritesh Batra's The Lunchbox, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Anand Gandhi's Ship Of Theseus and Gauri Shinde's English Vinglish to be India's official Oscar entry. Many were unhappy with the Film Federation of India's (FFI) decision to nominate the film. Reports suggest that The Lunchbox makers were one of them.
But as much as others may criticise FFI selection process, Gehi remains unperturbed by the negativity surrounding The Good Road. "People are entitled to their opinions, it's a free country. Getting hurt is a luxury I cannot afford," he said.
Not a costly affair, The Good Road was apparently wrapped up in about Rs.2 crore, but campaigning for the Oscar is an expensive exercise. The actor has faith in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and feels it is well-equipped for the task.
"I'm confident of NFDC and its efforts. I don't have any worry at all," he said. Having said that, Ajay admits he never imagined such a glorious fate for "The Good Road", a film that he signed solely because of its script. "When I first read the script and the film was offered to me, the only thing that I was thinking was that it's a great script and more such films should be made. I was more than glad to accept it," he said.
The 92-minute drama sees impressive performances by child artists Keval Katrodia and Poonam Kesar Singh and Sonali Kulkarni. "I don't think anyone from our team ever expected any kind of gains from it. We purely did it for creative satisfaction. But the film has pleasantly surprised all of us and has a life of its own now," he added.
Shot in Gujarat, the film's story is an amalgamation of several small stories with the centre being a highway. Oscar-winning Resul Pookutty has designed the sound.
The actor mastered Gujarati to effectively prepare for the role. "I believe one needs to prepare for a role. One can surely be spontaneous but preparation always helps me think on my feet and react to situations," he said.
Ajay began his career as a model and did over 200 commercials before venturing to host TV shows. He made his acting debut in Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool. He was also seen in Mani Ratnam's Raavan and Ram Gopal Varma's Not A Love Story.
He featured in TV show Miilee and co-produced Madholal Keep Walking, which won nine international nominations and three international awards. Coming from a television background, Ajay's transition to films has been gradual. Although he wished the transition to have been "faster", he is satisfied with his journey.
"My transition from one medium to another has been a gradual one. It's given me exposure to all and also the opportunity to learn as I grow," he said.
With an endeavour to grow as much as he can, Ajay is looking for roles that challenge his acting abilities. "I'm looking to do films and roles that make a difference, work that inspire people, pushes the limits. I would love to do roles that challenge me as an actor," he said.