Posted on April 24, 2022 at 11:54 pm

Bollywood Featured

Ritwik Pareek spill the beans on his debut feature film ‘Dug Dug’

Hailing from Jaipur, India, Ritwik Pareek realised that faith is the manifestation power of people’s minds, and created Dug Dug, a feature film that revolves around a religious myth created around an alcoholic man who loses his life in a grisly accident.

Ritwik Pareek spills the beans on his debut feature film ‘Dug Dug.’

His debut film is inspired by an actual temple in Jodhpur devoted to a dead motorcycle rider and got one of its biggest acknowledgement getting screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA).

It will be held April 28 – May 1 at Regal LA LIVE. See:

In an exclusive conversation with UrbanAsian, Ritwik opens up about his feature film Dug Dug, interesting incidents, colour theme, challenges, and more.


This is your debut film and last year it was selected for TIFF and now will be screened at IFFLA. The reviews have been glowing. What thoughts and emotions are you experiencing from these accolades? 


RP: These accolades have all been more than I could have asked for. I always wanted a theatrical screening for “Dug Dug” and when TIFF told me they wanted to have the world premiere in IMAX, I was overwhelmed. “Dug Dug” was screened at the same screen as Dune. I mean, overjoyed is an understatement for the emotion that I felt. It was a great screening and I still get messages from people telling me how much they loved the film. I will forever be grateful. People ask me when will the film hit the theatres. Hopefully soon with the help of this great platform that is IFFLA.


The film is based on true events / real temple. What about it grabbed your interest so much that you decided to make it the subject of your first film?


RP: I was born and raised in the state of Rajasthan, India in a religious family. Being a brahmin and having had my grandmother as the guide, I have visited the most bizarre temples, small villages with big religious festivals and have heard the craziest chilling stories about gods and goddesses. I wanted my first film to be from and about where I am from and what has made me what I am. Also, it was logistically easier to shoot the story in the state of Rajasthan because I knew the people, the dialect and the area quite well. It is said that drama is global and comedy is local. I knew that if I wanted to make a satire, I had to go deep into the heart of the people. I had to see how they think and do things. Knowing them and already being a part of their journey helped a lot.


How did the idea of the magician’s hoarding come about?


RP: The magician poster was meant to serve four purposes. First I was looking for a metaphor and the brief I gave myself was that there should be no exposition with dialogues. I am all about visual storytelling. So, the question was what should I put in the middle of nowhere so that when the Luna (motorbike) comes back the next day,  we can tell that it has come back to the same place. So we see the poster first in the night.


The second was that whatever a magician does is all an illusion. So, when the Luna’s headlight turns a different direction due to the wind, we immediately cut to the magician’s poster implying that it’s possibly magic thereby creating an illusion.


The third purpose was to have something for the main character to get distracted by while riding in the night and cause his fall. There’s a famous stand-up by Bill Burr where he talks about how a woman is often the cause of great men’s fall. No matter how good or focused they are. That was the idea. We begin with Thakur being super chill and handling his alcohol and self very well while riding in the night. But then as soon as he sees these beautiful dancing women on a poster, he gets distracted and falls.


The fourth purpose that the poster serves was that it turns into something about the temple. In the film, people relate the magician as Thakur Sa blessing us all implying that a new wave has come, however the composition and elements of it all remain the same. An illusion? Or godly magic?


Why did you chose blue and pink colors for Thakur’s bike?


RP: Thakur’s bike was blue and pink for a reason. We wanted separate branding for our god. You see a color and you immediately associate it with a religion. You see green, you think of Islam. You see orange- you think of Buddhism. Similarly, we wanted a completely new and different color scheme for Thakur Sa. It also had to be different from the earthy colors of the desert and had to stand out. Blue and Pink came to our rescue together.

Everything that we see in the film is so picture-perfect, right from night lights scenes to the background score to the shots in deserted places with villagers. How much time did it take to create this masterpiece?


RP: I like films being precise, picture perfect with attention to small details. To try to be precise with “Dug Dug,” we story boarded everything, which took us about four months and we still ended up improvising a lot. The magician’s poster and film’s poster took another 2-3 months each. The miniature paintings that you see in the film towards the end took another 5 months. It is how Christopher Nolan says, compromise here and there but stick to your vision and say what you want to say. We shot for 42 days in a span of 4 months. Post production took really long for it was done entirely during the covid lockdown. Post production, along with the film’s score and color grading was done on Zoom. It took us three- four years to make “Dug Dug.”


Do share some interesting incidents that happened during the filming.


RP: Every day was interesting and tough on the set. People used to steal the magician poster from the billboard a lot especially the part with the beautiful dancing ladies. They took them home and hung them in their bathrooms. We eventually had to hire security to guard the poster. Also, during the filming, we had to distribute tiny alcohol bottles (quarters) to villagers to offer to Thakur Sa. They would gulp these down and day drinking was the highlight all the time. It was challenging to shoot with drunk villagers but it was still fun.


As a first-time director, what has been the most challenging part?


The most challenging part was to make sure that my teammates had the same clear vision I had and I had to make sure to communicate what I wanted to all the departments. I had to make my team trust my story and vision, being extremely patient all the while.

Any strong influences in this genre or cinema in general?


Yes, plenty of inspiration. I knew what I wanted from the start and I also knew that the premise of the film is absurd. Whenever I narrated the film to people who knew nothing about the real temple, they assumed that I am influenced by or planning to do a “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” sort of an exaggeration. But that was never it. What I have shown in “Dug Dug” is exactly how the commercialisation of a religion comes about. You see any privately run temple and you will understand where I’m coming from.


For the opening scene, I was heavily visually inspired by “Top Gun” and “Easy Rider.” There’s an old saying about filmmakers: they take inspiration from the older generation and create something new with it. For the montages, I was inspired by Edgar Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead” and Sam Remi’s “Evil Dead.” Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson are an inspiration for almost everything. My cinematic language is inspired by Denis Villeneuve. I believe he is the best director right now. Another inspiration for the montages came from a Nike football advertisement titled ‘Write the Future’ directed by Alejandro G Iñárritu.


What next?

I don’t want to repeat the same genre so I am working on different genres. Can’t disclose at the moment but more on that soon.


Take  a look at the trailer of Dug Dug here: 

For more information on the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA),

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