Director Natesh Hegde and producer Rishab Shetty, whose “Pedro” was in the New Currents competition at the Busan International Film Festival in 2021, are at this year’s Asian Project Market with “Vaghachipani” (“Tiger′s Pond”).
“Pedro” won best director for Hegde at Pingyao, best film at the Nantes Three Continents Festival, and had a stellar festival run including the BFI London Film Festival, Golden Horse and IndieLisboa.
Set in a sleepy hamlet, “Tiger′s Pond” will follow an under-aged shepherdess who is discovered to be pregnant. Her employer, who is hellbent on becoming the chair of the village council, makes every effort to cover it up.
“From my childhood I have been seeing mentally challenged people coming to our small town out of nowhere. They used to stay in bus stops or some other shed and after few months they disappear again. I always used to wonder what they feel or experience being in that state,” Hegde told Variety. “I read a short story by Kannada writer Amaresh Nugadoni and I liked it. It was about a mentally challenged girl and about a village, set in north Karnataka. It stayed with me for the past three years. I added a lot more to that keeping the spirit of the story intact.”
“This story deals with basic human nature, it’s about greed and brutality – so I genuinely have an urge to make this film. I cannot tell a story neglecting the social dynamics,” adds Hegde. “It can also be seen as companion piece to ‘Pedro.’ Both the stories have a quality of interiority.”
Hegde grew up in a rural part of the South Indian state of Karnataka, home to the Kannada-language film industry, and he remains based there. With “Pedro” and now with “Tiger’s Pond,” he is emerging as a chronicler of rural India. “I only know that life, so organically that is reflected in my films,” says Hedge.
“Pedro” and “Tiger’s Pond” are produced by actor-writer-producer-director Rishab Shetty, a huge star of Kannada cinema whose credits include “Kirik Party” and “Kantara,” which is currently on release.
” ‘Pedro’ and ‘Tiger’s Pond both had a haunting story that is the starting point for me. Though we both practice different kind of films, me and Natesh always believed that all films should coexist. To an extent my visibility adds to the film to increase the potential audience. More than that I love to be associated with meaningful films in any way possible,” Shetty told Variety.
” ‘Tiger’s Pond’ is very rooted in the region where it is set, the place plays a crucial role. It has very fascinating characters whose lives are intertwined in a very dramatic manner. I’m very curious to see how this world shapes up,” Shetty adds.
The project, which aims to commence principal photography this winter, has $280,000 of its $520,000 budget in place. The quest at Busan is to find international coproducers and sales agents and utilize the global acclaim that “Pedro” generated.
Meanwhile, Hegde has made the aesthetic choice of opting to shoot “Tiger’s Pond” on 16mm rather than digital.
“It’s true that digital cameras democratized the cinema medium. But I really do not like crisp and flashy digital images much,” says Hegde. “Also, I would like to practice cinema with precision. Overall footage for ‘Pedro’ was five hours from which we got a 1 hour 49 minute film, so with this shooting ratio film stock won’t be that expensive. The texture 16mm gives is crucial for us.”