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Darjeeling hill Boy Saurav Rai realises his dream in Cannes Film Festival

Cannes/ Darjeeling : The North-East hill town of Darjeeling has made history by sending its first son of soil to the Cannes film festival. Saurav Rai, a 29-year-old resident of the Mangwa village near Darjeeling, has become the first from Darjeeling to show his film at the prestigious film festival. Rai's ''Gudh' (Nest), a 28-minute-short film, is part of the section for film schools in Cannes. Just passed out from the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata, Rai was selected to represent the country in the Cinefondation section at the 69th Cannes film festival. "My community is proud that I am the first Darjeeling boy to come to Cannes," beamed Rai, whose film was one of the 18 films selected to the Cannes festival from around the world this year. Rai's Diploma film, 'Gudh' is about his childhood memories of living with his parents in Mangwa during the holidays and as a child growing up with his grandparents in Kathmandu. "I lived with my grandparents until I was 10 years old," says Rai. "That way, I had two sets of parents." 

After receiving his degree in mass communication and journalism from Darjeeling, Rai decided to work, but couldn't concentrate on his career. "It was then that somebody suggested film school and I applied to SRFTI and received full scholarship," he says. When 'Gudh'', his Diploma film in SRFTI, was selected by the Cannes festival, he received a congratulatory message from the festival authorities. "The message meant more than the selection for me," says Rai. For 'Gudh', Rai chose to cast his fellow villagers from Mangwa, bringing five of them to Kolkata to shoot the film. "It was their first trip outside Darjeeling," he says. The cast included an elderly woman, "who was a perfect replica of my grandmother". Rai's grandfather, who served as a Gorkha soldier in the British army, encouraged his grandson to pursue his dreams. "My grandfather was confident that I would make our community proud," says Rai. Rai's 2014 short film 'Monsoon Rain' had been screened at the Montreal film festival. According to Rai, the Iranian cinema was a big influence on his interest in filmmaking. "I saw Iranian films telling our kind of stories. That is what I wanted to do always, tell the stories from the village I come from," he adds. National award-winning Kannada director Girish Kasaravalli remains the major Indian filmmaker, who has influenced Rai in creating his own style of filmmaking.
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