Filmmaker Spotlight: Devansh Mathur

“Gotya” is an intriguing bike-themed film set in India. We spent some time talking with filmmaker Devansh Mathur about the making of this complex piece.

“In British occupied India, they made horse trails in the forest to transport goods. These old trails back from the 1940’s still exist and we live very close to them. These trails go deep into the forest which is buzzing with wildlife. This inspired me to think of a plot around cycling in the forest which led to the making of Gotya. I was overjoyed when I found out that Filmed by Bike focused on bicycle films. What better festival could I have asked for?”

The main character in Gotya is based on an old childhood friend of Devansh. “We used to play cricket, football and all sorts of games when we were young. He worked part time at my house and he always had something interesting to talk about. He was once chased and beaten severely for falling in love with a girl from a higher caste. Gotya would spend hours talking about his love life, which used to bore me to death as I was too young to understand.”

“I grew up around nature, with snakes in my bathroom and spiders in my living room during the monsoons. I became quite fond of wildlife since I lived in a biodiversity hotspot. I wanted to show this beautiful terrain being explored by two, rather curious boys. I wished to show how exciting cycling in the jungle could get. I looked for inspiration all around me. I found rustic houses, immense valleys and peaks; perfect for my film.”

One of the most difficult aspects of this piece was working with someone who had never before acted. “Mahesh is a tribal boy from Gadchiroli who works as an artist at my mother’s NGO. Completely new to the field of acting, he needed to get rid of his self-consciousness first. And both actors needed to learn how to cycle on trails since they were both beginners. I got them used to riding down a trail at moderate speeds before I started shooting.”

There were other challenges along the way, too. “We had to retake the “Gotya talking to dog” so many times as the my dog Marcus Brown never really paid any attention to him. We had to hold biscuits beside Mahesh’s head to get the perfect shot. It was quite entertaining until we sarted losing light and had to wrap up quickly.”

Devansh and Gotya’s real life relationship mostly came to a halt when Gotya was caught stealing from Devansh’s mom and eventually went to jail. Though the two reconnected later in life, the relationship wasn’t the same. Reminiscing about his time in real life with Gotya, Devansh says “I wanted to concentrate on the bond between the two boys and how it eventually falls apart. But does it fall apart really?”

Devansh says he loves riding bikes and biking culture is slowly picking up in India, especially in Pune – a sprawling city in India. But Devansh prefers to stay in the more remote small hillstation called Panchgani. “I prefer cycling amidst the forest trails away from the main roads which are usually clogged with traffic. It is an ethereal experience, getting lost in the forests of Panchgani/Mahabaleshwar and finding your way back out again.”

Devansh’s film “Gotya” plays in the Sunday VIP screenings at 5:00pm and 7:30pm. These screenings are an exclusive opportunity for VIP Festival Pass holders. Purchase your VIP pass when buying festival tickets.
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