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Director, Writer, And Producer Rucha Humnabadkar Talks About Her Journey From Theatre To Filmmaking

  • IWB Post
  •  July 9, 2018

Rucha Humnabadkar is a Hyderabad-born director, writer, and producer, who now lives in San Francisco, California. The filmmaker, known for her works Arranged Marriage, Hyderabad Blues, Rockford, and Bollywood Calling, is currently in news for her latest film For Here or To Go?, which she has directed.

“For Here or To Go?” is a comedy-drama set in San Francisco/Bay Area and Mumbai. It’s a heartfelt and humorous portrayal of the lives of Indian immigrants in the Silicon Valley. It’s a story that highlights the dilemma of modern cultural displacement.

In the movie, Rucha sees a reflection of her personal journey that traverses from a student on an F1 visa to a green card holder, and finally, a citizen of the US. The experiences in the story are hers and of her friends and family.

Speaking about the generation of movie’s concept, she told The Hindu, “Rishi Bhilawadikar had written a blog that captured the idiosyncrasies of Indians living in the US. The blog was well received, insightful and funny. He decided to extend this into a screenplay. His own situation of waiting for a visa and green card further fuelled his interest in telling a very important story of our times. During the script reading, I saw a reflection of many of my personal experiences and those of my friends and family in the story and decided to direct the film. We decided to finance the film through friends, family, and individuals in the Bay Area, California. We also did a crowdfunding campaign.”

Before getting into the line of filmmaking, Rucha was a theatre artist. She was first exposed to theatre and acting while studying in Nasr School in Hyderabad. Later, while doing her Bachelor’s in Commerce from St. Francis college, she started a theatre group named ‘Confetti’.

Recalling her entry into the world of filmmaking, she said, “Nagesh Kukunoor had just returned from the U.S and was looking for the cast and crew for Hyderabad Blues. A few actors including me, from my theatre group ‘Confetti’ acted in it, but I was involved all through the filmmaking process, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After that, I moved to Pune and attended a journalism school at the University of Pune. While in Pune, I wrote and directed three English plays.”

She then did a Masters of Design Programme at Carnegie Mellon University; the programme for writers to be more visual and the degree. This helped her get a job at eBay in Silicon Valley California.

She recalled, “Despite having a full-time job, my interest in film and writing continued. While at eBay I wrote my debut novel Dance of the Fireflies, based on street kids in India. I also signed up for classes at the San Francisco Digital Filmmaking School and wrote and directed a short film titled Arranged Marriage, which screened at the San Francisco 3rd Asian Film Festival and White Sands Film Festival in 2012. It is also part of the Smithsonian ‘Beyond Bollywood’ travelling exhibit 2015 to 2020 in the U.S.”

After Hyderabad Blues, Rucha went on to work with Kukunoor on Rockford and Bollywood Calling as an assistant director and art director.

Talking about what went behind deciding the title of her maiden directorial film, For Here or To Go, she said, “During our research for the film, we talked to over 50 Bay Area Indian families and a constant theme emerged — even those who had lived here for over 20 years were still contemplating if they should return to India. We are only second generation Indians here and the first generation is till ambivalent about living in the U.S. We haven’t fully assimilated like the Chinese communities and others who have been here longer. Hence, in my view, this is an apt title for the film.”

The support received during the making of the movie and the feedback has given her a nudge to work more. She shared, “We had great response and feedback from audiences here. Also, the Bay Area Indian community came together to make this film. Indian businesses supported us by giving us locations to shoot at, an Indian restaurant catered all our meals on set. Indian individuals and families helped by housing cast and crew, and lending transport to drive them to different locations.”

The movie comes in execution with the help of her own journey. “It took me 14 years to get US citizenship and made me passionate to share my story. For Here Or To Go? has enabled me to show the world first hand what an immigrant experiences at an emotional and intellectual level while assimilating in a new culture and building a home away from home. Many of the scenes in the film reflect my own personal experiences,” said Rucha.

H/T: The Hindu

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