India in a Day is a window into the developing nation, the culture, the people, the typical way of life and so much more. As a viewer you are introduced to a montage of colours, sounds and breathtaking scenery as you are guided on a journey into the interesting lives of India’s people. This isn’t a Hollywood feature film showing off the dynamic Bollywood movie sets with singing and dancing, nor the majestic temples like the Taj Mahal or the grand ceremonies like Diwali. India in a Day is a film shot by individuals sharing their lives and personal stories about life in evolving India. There are parts that will make you laugh, raise your curiosity, engage you in an ordinary task, show you love, anger, and passion as well as have you contemplate humanity. Everything was captured by real people and put together by Toronto born director with South Asian roots, Richie Mehta. I sat down with Richie Mehta to talk about this film at its TIFF debut.
Where did the idea for ‘India in a Day’ come from?
Google and Ridley Scott had partnered before for a film called ‘Life in a Day’ that was a documentary shot by filmmakers around the world to serve as a time capsule that captured one day in the life of people around the globe. This is an extension of that. There have been others, but this is the first to be shot in a developing country.
How did you get involved with the project?
Well, they got me on board. Google and Ridley Scott had decided this project was going to happen and they wanted to find a South Asian director to take on the film. I happened to have a friend who knew one of the producers and he mentioned my name. They looked at my other work, Amal, Siddharth and decided it was a fit.
The first call with them I thought to myself this is a dream project – I hope this is real!
How did you get the word out across India?
I did press for several weeks, everything from print to radio to TV. I also networked with a lot of my colleagues in the business and asked them to pass it on to everyone they knew. Google also set it up so anyone who went to the Google homepage would see the information about the project and how to participate. They also set up a separate site with information and for people to upload all their footage to.
How many submissions were there?
We got over 16000 clips. A clip can be a few minutes or a few hours. Some were very long, others just a few minutes. We watched ALL of them. We used a rating system to help us choose the ones we felt would fit with the theme the best, would be interesting to viewers as well as best tell the story of a day in India.
Which of the stories resonated the most with you?
Definitely the farmer! The things he spoke about were pertinent to everyone. He spoke of humanity and the changes that were happening in India but they are the same changes happening around the globe. His concerns and observations are things we are seeing everywhere not just in this little farming town.
The story of the young single mother – Priya also stood out to me. She shot it so specifically. At first you just see a woman sitting on her balcony smoking, then the camera turns to a shot of iron bars looking down on to a courtyard of an apartment and you suddenly hear her raw narrative. She was so open and real.
What did you learn?
Indian’s have a wicked sense of humour. Even when things are terrible they can laugh and have fun.
I didn’t receive any footage from the upper economic class – the wealthier people. I knew I would probably not get anything from the older generation, but the young wealthy generation, the educated youth – I thought they would want to share, but there was nothing.
The people who did send in their clips really had something to say. They showed a people who are thinking and concerned about where the country is going.
Watch the teasers here :