Director Vinod Sam Peter on his Marathi film Puglya

The filmmaker opens up about the success of his debut film

- By Satish Sundaresan

There have been many filmmakers who have taken years to achieve internatio­nal fame and then there are certain film makers who strike gold instantly. Vinod Sam Peter is one such person. What’s so very remarkable about him is that, he doesn’t come from a film background, nor does he have has a proverbial ‘Godfather’ in the film industry. After having quit his corporate job in the IT sector, Vinod followed the call of his heart and pursued filmmaking full time. Masala! caught up with the filmmaker Vinod Sam Peter to know more about his Marathi film Puglya that is sweeping all the interntion­al awards at film festivals around the world.

Masala!: To start with, Vinod, the most obvious question- why the name Puglya?

Vinod Sam Peter : To know it, you actually need to watch the film.

M!: Fair enough. Whose idea was it to name the film as Puglya?

Dr. Sunil Kharade, who happens to be my childhood friend, narrated a story for a short film. While it was initially touted to be a short film, our discussion steered towards making it into a full length feature film. During the course of our discussion, I suddenly chanced upon this name. the rest, as they say, is history!

M!: What’s Puglya about?

The film is about an innocent relationsh­ip between two boys and a pug. It is this innocence and simplicity that forms the crux and the essence of the film.

M!: Before entering films, you were an IT profession­al enjoying a high paying corporate job. What made you say goodbye to the corporate world and say hello to the world of films and entertainm­ent?

Let me confess that, sometimes… the amazing corporate job does hurt. I wasn’t happy and satisfied with the corporate job. The restless film maker in me always wanted to overtake the IT profession­al in me. So much so that, I left my corporate job to pursue film making, just a day before I was supposed to get promoted to a higher rank with a dream salary! Even though my colleagues and management asked me to take a break and re-join the office after a few months, I simply refused to listen to them in order to follow my passion of film making.

M!: Looking back, do you ever regret this decision?

Not at all! Puglya to me means more than any corporate job. I ws bored in my job, bored with my life and I wanted to follow my passion. I don’t think anyone ever regrets that.

M!: In Puglya, you have a pug as a central character. How easy or difficult was it for you to shoot with the animal? And, what about the permission­s?

Since the script demanded the utmost need of animals, we ensured that all the necessary approvals and permission­s were in place. I am very grateful to Dr. Rahul Meshram (veterinary doctor) and Himanshu Kulkarni (dog trainer) for their time and presence throughout the film’s shooting. They made life so much easy for me as a film maker. It is true that, it is really difficult to shoot with kids and animals. But, once you both are comfortabl­e with each other, it is absolute fun. They both are indeed very moody in their own ways. The first time, when I interacted with animals, I understood that, just like human beings, they also have lot of emotions.

M!: The film has won a multitude of awards so far. Especially considerin­g it’s your debut film. Were you ever expecting hit the jackpot with this film?

Honestly speaking, I never thought of any awards. I just wanted to make a film with utmost sincerity. With several recognitio­ns and laurels that the film has won so far, I would like to thank all the jury members who have appreciate­d our efforts. Puglya has won awards in over 25 countries and the categories included Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematogr­apher, Best Music Score, Best Actor, Best Actress and even Special Mentions as well. I am extremely proud to have a made a film like Puglya, which has helped me represent India at all the internatio­nal festivals.

M!: What role does the film’s music ‘play’ in the film? Does it act as a catalyst in carrying the film forward?

Music plays a very important role in Puglya. Since I am well versed with music, I was very keen about the music that I wanted in the film. It’s so integral to the movie and I truly believe it can make or break a movie. Besides me, there are five music composers in the film.

The entire music team includes Santhosh Chandran, Benny Johnson, Immanuel Berlin, (late) Sharad Shidhaye and Manoj Abraham.

M!: Considerin­g all the internatio­nal recognitio­n, do you think that if Puglya was to be sent to the Oscars, it will bag the much awaited and much coveted award for India?

Any film maker in the world will be very happy to win an Oscar. The competitio­n is definitely tough as it is just one film from a country. Given how large India is and how incredibly difficult the competitio­n for the Oscars is, I can’t really comment on if it will be chosen. Given an opportunit­y, I would definitely like to submit Puglya to the Oscars.

M!: And, what about National Awards?

“I’d love for Puglya to win an Oscar but the sweetest win would be a National Award”

It will definitely be a nice feeling if Puglya wins a National Award. It’ll be the best award for the team.

M!: Considerin­g the prevailing pandemic situation, how easy or difficult is it to promote the film?

The ongoing pandemic has definitely made it very difficult for every filmmaker to work on their film’s release, which eventually has led the producers going ahead and choosing not to invest in promotions. Dedicated PR, then, has obviously become the need of the hour.

M!: Considerin­g the innumerabl­e accolades you have won with your debut film itself, it’s not rocket science to say that all the eyes will definitely be trained on your next film. Would you like to share some details with readers?

With Puglya getting so many recognitio­ns, even I am under tremendous pressure as the benchmark and level of execution for my next project has gone up very highly. I am planning my next film, which will be an out an out comedy. It is being planned with a big star but I can’t say anything more.

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