Directed by Gurpreet Singh Chawla (Monty) and Utkarsha Naik—avid animal lovers—who decided to let the world know the incidents of mass stray dog culling in Kerala, Wake Up Kerala is a movie based on the inhuman act.
So, we worked together, made a script and then we approached Shraddha Joshi and Gahna Verma, who were eager to work in the movie, tells Gurpreet. It took approximately two months for writing, screenplay, dialogues and shooting of Wake Up Kerala.
Every small thing counts…
What’s more? “We approached few theatre artists from a college and they were ready to work in the same. We even have some real-life people (characters) working in the movie. For example, the character of coconut seller in the movie is a real one, not an actor. When we told him about the movie, he was initially reluctant to support us as he was also in favour of culling dogs. However, after explaining him about dogs being killed brutally and how it will impact Kerela, he agreed to act. After completing the shooting, he told us that he has also become a dog lover and started feeding stray dogs in his area. That was our real win,” explains Gurpreet.
Only a dog lover can do that…
“Killing dogs is like killing your best friend,” says Utkarsha Naik, who is also a massive animal lover who feeds stray dogs in her area and also rescues injured animals. The reason she got involved with the movie was that she wanted to tell people how kind dogs are. Utkarsha and her actor daughter Gahna Verma are blessed with three-year-old Cocker Spaniel named Fluffy.
“Dogs are human’s best friends and let’s help our best friends,” says Gurpreet Singh Chawla, founder of HALT – Stop Animal Abuse (an NGO). “My entire family is crazy for animals. My mom feeds more than 150 dogs every day. I have been fighting for animal cruelty cases across Mumbai. I got involved in such cause because I wanted to show people how bad is dog culling,” he says. Gurpreet is blessed with four dogs— Blacky, Billo, Romeo and Bumblee, all of them Indian breeds.
“Let’s make Kerala more beautiful by helping animals,” says actor Shraddha Joshi, who is always ready to fight for the rights of animals. She helps around 100 stray animals near her home. “Dogs are loyal to humans, let’s be loyal to them,” says Gahna Verma, an upcoming actor cum model and an ardent animal lover.
Behind the scene
July 09: To curb dog bite menace, Kerala government announced to cull strays; and vigilante groups in the state in turn started killing stray dogs in the following days.
July 26: Activists started staging #BoycottKerala campaign.
Sept 14: Taking strong note of the merciless killing, Supreme Court (SC) ordered the state government to file its response with details of the action taken on the offenders.
Sept 19: Social worker Jose Maveli arrested for heading the culling drive.
Nov 17: SC restrained all the vigilante groups responsible for culling the strays and distributing subsidised guns.