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Reel story: Two New Zealanders cover three Indian states in an autorickshaw

Two New Zealanders travelled across Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat in an autorickshaw. Now, a documentary film depicts their journey

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Dec 22, 2016 15:51 IST
The autorickshaw that Dayan Muntz and Ron Montgomery were travelling in
The autorickshaw that Dayan Muntz and Ron Montgomery were travelling in(Photo courtesy: Dayan Muntz and Ron Montgomery)

Two New Zealanders travelled across Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat in an autorickshaw. Now, a documentary film depicts their journey

From July to August 2016, two travel guides — Dayan Muntz and Ron Montgomery — from New Zealand decided to travel across three Indian states in an autorickshaw. It was planned in a way that they could avoid torrential rainfall. As part of their journey, they went from Uttar Pradesh to Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Read: Film, theatre, 4,000km biking expedition: Kalki Koechlin is busier than ever

But during their journey, they faced waterlogging and flooding in Rajasthan. Yet, it was a minor hiccup on their three-week journey traversing 1,600km. Their adventures have been captured by director Chandrashekhar Parab in his upcoming travelogue, The Great Rickshaw Roadtrip.

In the trailer, released last month, we see a vibrant autorickshaw crossing puddles and bridges and racing across highways. On its heels is a support vehicle with a two-member filming crew and myriad equipment — Canon 1DC, DJI Osmo, Go Pro and DJI Phantom 3. Parab, who earlier edited Coke Studio at MTV and shot several travelogues, tags this particular experience an example of documentary making.

“I have directed multiple travel videos. But this one was about a bigger idea and changing perceptions. Foreigners often have preconceived notions about our country. With this trip, we wanted to highlight another perspective about the country,” says Parab. However, based on our conversations, the film still comes across as a stereotypical, exotic depiction of India — narrow roads, traffic jams and the Indian monsoon.

Ron Montgomery (L) and Dayan Muntz (Photo courtesy: Dayan Muntz and Ron Montgomery)

On the road

Looking back at the trip, Montgomery fondly remembers playing cricket with locals at Mavli in Rajasthan, and recalls a bunch of kids happy to help push the tuk-tuk through the narrow jammed lanes in Pushkar. “The kids were determined to teach us how to really play cricket. Dayan and I picked our players and had a great competition in front of The Taj Lake Palace (picturised in the film — The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2012). It was a close game, but my team won,” he says.

The highlight of the trip, Muntz confesses, was the sumptuous food spreads they feasted on throughout, especially parathas, paneer and papads. He jokes that they even dreamt of food.

The duo learned to play cricket from children at Mavli in Rajasthan (Photo courtesy: Dayan Muntz and Ron Montgomery)

Stuck in the rain

The challenging part of the journey, however, was not travelling in an autorickshaw, but driving during the monsoon. Often, the four would be crossing flooded roads, uncertain of where the potholes may be located. “One really exciting day was when we arrived at Jojawar in Rajasthan. It had been raining heavily and all the streets in the town were flooded. We were worried that we might get stuck and/or drown our tuk-tuk. We were driving uphill towards our hotel and literally the road was like a river. What was quite funny is that the people at the hotel were so pleased to see us, they acted like we had brought the rains with us and were celebrating the monsoon,” says Muntz.