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Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

Filmmaker Shubh Mukherjee Got Us Tripping With His 30-Day Non-Stop Travel Story

  • IWB Post
  •  August 18, 2017

 

As I landed the office today, I was informed that I would be taking the interview of the filmmaker, actor, and producer, Shubh Mukherjee. Originally, my fellow blogger, Komal was to grab the chance, but, due to her other commitments, I was asked to fill in (and how grateful I’m about it!) She also told me about the one-of-its-kind travel series that Shubh had documented, for which he traveled India for 30 days non-stop.

Intrigued much, I dived into series #TripWithMe, when I came across his traveler’s note. I’m sharing it with you all because I think it’s one of the most beautiful descriptions I have ever read on traveling.img_1

“I had embarked upon a journey that was going to be one of the toughest challenges of my life. I was to travel the 7th largest country, India within 30 days. As much as I could, As far as I could go to explore, discover and learn about a country that more than half its population isn’t even aware about. To many, it was going to be an impossible task, for many it was a foolish attempt, & yes there were times, their fears became my fear, their doubts became my doubt. One could probably not even cover India in 30 years, I hadn’t, how would I do it in 30 days. But yes, there were also not too many people who would spend 30 days of their lives just tripping across India, leaving everything else behind under some real challenging conditions & situations. I stepped out of my comfort zone, leaving behind my regular routine of home, work, family, friends and of course the over demanding social networking. No phones, no communication with anyone. And as I stood there on the 30th day, at minus 13 degrees, in a dilemma whether I would complete the last bit or not, a few thoughts pushed me to go. All that I had experienced in these 30 days, while tripping from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, from Rajasthan to Nagaland, from drought hit villages to warn torn paradise, from thriving towns to struggling cities, from hidden treasures to unsung triumphs. I had experienced in 30 days what I had not experienced in my whole lifetime.”

Ahhh, I was more excited than I can express for the interview after reading this.

What does your travel bag tell about you?img_5

Ahh, It screams all about my spontaneity. Many times, my bag may have things which are not suited for the journey I am going on and the reason behind it is that I do not plan. I’m very impulsive. Yes, it is very challenging, but that’s what makes it interesting also, right?

Absolutely! Tell us about the women you met during your trip.

I discovered that the perception of rural women in metro cities, like Delhi and Mumbai, is very different from what the actual scenario is. Most of the people think that these women are only chained in patriarchy and have no life of their own. While there are places where women are still living in a very conservative environment, there are also many places where women are fearless and more open in the way they talk and dress. While tripping in the interiors of Maharastra, Punjab, Gujarat, I met so many women and I think they know how important they are for the world to exist. They are engaged in strenuous physical activities, tirelessly working in the farms, earning their money through retail shops, and running their homes single-handedly. Women of India are so diverse in their characteristics that one can only embrace them and celebrate them.

In my journey too, the turning point came when I was finishing off my day’s shoot in Tatri village in Madhya Pradesh when one woman came running to me. She told me that I want to speak something on the camera. She started telling us about the lack of educational institutions in the village due to which the girls in the village do not get the opportunity to study. Soon, I saw other women joined her and asked us to help her spread the word that more schools and colleges must be set-up in their village. I could sense their anguish, but, I also saw the positive desire in them to educate their girls and make them independent.

Wow! We also read that the entire team cut off any communication from the outside world. Share your experience on the same.img_2

*laughs* Oh, it was very tough! No Internet access, no phones! Only one phone was given to us by our producers, that too, to communicate with our logistics team.

One of the most challenging experiences was when our cameraman and I were going to Gaya from Benaras. At one stop, we noticed that one of our bags was misplaced. The photographer got off the train to check and meanwhile, I found it. But, the train had started by then and I had no way to contact him. It was crazy and I was so desperate to know where he was and had he taken another train. After 4 hours, we were united, and trust me it was a beautiful feeling.

So, you also got engaged to your long time partner Shammika. As the no outside communication rule, how did you compensate to her after returning?

Lets go back. My love. To the woods.❤️. My partner in every journey, every trip. ?. * * * * * #travel #instatravel #travelgram #instago #travelblogger #wanderlust #lovetotravel #traveltowrite #instapassport #travelling #trip #India #igtravel #travelblog #travelpics #travelphotography #coupletravel #traveller #vsco #all_shots #vscocam #roadtrip #love #fiance #engaged

212 Likes, 4 Comments – Shubh.M (@shubh.mukherjee) on Instagram: “Lets go back. My love. To the woods.❤️. My partner in every journey, every trip. ?. * * * * *…”

Oh, it was the toughest time of our relationship. No calls, no messages, no meets, no chilling out! But, she was with me in spirit, I like to believe!

So, on the last day of my journey, she flew down to the place I was staying and we spent hours catching up on what all had happened in these 30 days. I shared with her my memories, my thoughts, and told her all about the new ideas I have in mind. And also, I read out the messages that I had written for her during my journey.

Awwww! So, what’s the one place from your trip that you’d like to visit with Shammika again?img_3

There are so many! Leh Ladakh and Northeast for sure!

Tell us about the most memorable conversation you had with a stranger.

I can never forget the conversation I had with a young girl and her parents in Kashmir. I’m not a politician, but a traveler. I can only show what I see. I don’t know whether the young girl was peaking under someone’s influence or not. But, that one-hour conversation with her describing how the army and the government are running the lives of so many living in the valley was heartbreaking.

Then, there were these farmers in Gujarat who told me that they only get 100 rupees for nine hours of work. Is this how our country will develop?

Tell us about the three things that made you trip during your journey.img_6

One, when I flew Drone for the first time in Kanyakumari. I even got caught by the Police officials who said that the drone had crossed the borders of Kanyakumari. But, when I got my camera back and saw the shot which had captured Vivekananda Rock memorial, and the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, it felt surreal.

Second, we had lost our path in a middle of a jungle somewhere in Madhya Pradesh. It was 3 in the night, and suddenly, we observed 50 something women, kind of like possessed and in sort of some trance, banging their heads, and making these weird guttural sounds. To get out and get a shot of it, got me tripping.

Another thing that just made me trip was when I was driving on the Khardunga La Pass road at minus 16 degree Celsius.

*imagining*

Brief us about your team which accompanied you on #TripWithMe.

So, there were two or three others with me at all times, but the other crew members would change every 7 days. We would have our share of good and bad days. Like I told you about the time when I lost our cameraman at a train stop, there are so many of such crazy experiences. There have been times when we broke down and thought that it’s just too ambitious a dream to carry on. But, then we motivated each other and that’s what kept us going!

A friend that you made on this trip which you’ll cherish for life?

I met this 70-something man in a Dhaba on Delhi-Jaipur Highway. He started telling me about his life and I was so thrilled. He was a farmer before, but, he left farming and instead, he traveled all across India, and how! He used to sit on any of the trucks he could find and would go to whichever place the truck took him. He has traveled so many places that we might not have even heard off. He’s so positive and lively. He loves to drink and every night, he just helps with the dishes or any other work in the local dhabas for a meal and drinks in return. He took my number and once in a while, we still interact!

One lesson from your trip that is now your life wisdom?img_8

I have learned that nothing is impossible. Nothing is stronger than our mind! You can find a way through anything if you have the heart and mind to find it.

One place where you got high on food?

*laughs* We barely got any time to eat. But, there was this dhaba where we got this really amazing Daal Baati Churma. And, the momos in Nagaland are to die for.

What new skills have you learned during your trip?img_7

Ummm… Basics of farming, driving a truck, brewing a beer and a few other things.

Few non-routine destinations that you would recommend our readers to explore.

So, most of them go to the popular beaches in Goa. I would suggest them to ditch these over-crowded beaches and instead, go absolute south, beyond the borders of Gokarna. There are many small islands there which are just a boat ride away. In the northeast, Meghalaya and Nagaland are a must visit. Also, I don’t know why but people visiting Tamil Nadu only limit themselves to Rameshwaram. There’s this now abandoned village, Dhanushkodi. It’s stunning. Earlier, it was known to be Singapore of India, but, after the cyclone hit in 1964, it has become a forgotten land. And, of course, Leh Ladakh is one place everyone should go at least once.

*noting them all*

While reading about his travel series and his other areas of work, I had also come across this powerful write-up by him on Verdict of Salman Khan’s Hit and Run Case, The power of Bhai remains bigger than the law” – Shubh Mukherjee. (You can read his entire article here.)img_4

After our conversation on ‘#Tripwithme’ I was much curious to know about the article. “What gives you the courage to be so fearless?” I finally asked.

“I have always been taught that ours is a democratic country and I take it very seriously. I have the right to say what I believe in. I think the major issue is that people in our country get biased and polarized very easily and I don’t blame them. If someone keeps repeating the same song for 300 times, then it’s natural for us to sing it. Same way, if we are being told something by the media over and over again, we believe it to be true. Luckily, the digital media gave me the platform where I could put forth my opinion. Why should a less powerful suffer for the mistake of committed by the powerful?”

“Even for my travel series, there were many things that a few people wanted me to cut or edit, but, as a filmmaker, if I’m making a documentary, how true will I be if I doctor them or script them to suit a few people’s needs,” he added.

“And, about being fearless, I think responsibility towards anyone or anything makes you fearless!” concluded Shubh.

P.S. You can get latest updates about Shubh Mukherjee’s travel series, “#TripWithMe” on their Facebook page, here. Also, you can watch the preview episode of #TripWithMe on Youtube, here.

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