Today, you can send a message to a person staying anywhere in the world by simply touching the keypad of your mobile phone. But do you know how messages were delivered during the British Raj? Mail runners, carrying bag full of letters, ran on foot and delivered messages across villages and towns. This was long before postmen came into being. Young Tamil actor and producer Ram Arun Castro plays one such mail runner in Oattathoodhuvan (The Mail Runner-1854).
Ram, who was in Kolkata to attend the screening of his film at the 21st Kolkata International Film Festival, says that he had a tough time making the film. Initially, he was only supposed to act in the film. However, the producer backed out in the last minute and Ram along with 15 of his friends finally had to raise funds to make the film. “The film narrates the story of male runners, who are the unsung heroes of the Indian postal department,” says Ram, who trained at New York Film Academy.
Set in 1854, the film revolves around Madeshwaran (Ram), who works as a mail runner for the British East India Company. While delivering a message from a British, he realises that if he delivers the documents, his homeland will be destroyed.
Ram put on nearly 20 kgs to get into the skin of the character. “The mail runners used to run at a uniform speed. After running for some time, they passed on the message to the next mail runner. It was like a relay race,” he says.
The film was premiered at the Kolkata International Film Festival.