In Conversation With Dinesh S. Yadav: Story Behind ‘Turtle’

We are fortunate to speak with a filmmaker who believes in delivering human emotions through his stories. Director Dinesh S. Yadav is from the pilgrim town of Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh. He started his journey in the world of filmmaking by going against his family’s wishes. The funny story is that he told his parents that he needed money for the PMT preparations, and he went to Mumbai to get into a film school. We had a wonderful conversation with Dinesh S. Yadav, the director of “Turtle,” the film that brought him a national award for the best Rajasthani cinema in 2021. He talks about his journey and what lies ahead of him.


The Story Behind “Turtle.”

When Dinesh S. Yadav first talked about the story with his producer, he was asked to spend more time in Rajasthan. The producer told him that he should take his time to craft his story to perfection. Mr. Dinesh says he was blessed to have such freedom and opportunities as a debutant director. The time made him familiar with the various flavors of the town and the scarcity of water that is always an issue for the locals. As he mentioned, the tattoos on Sanjay Mishra are solely inspired by the local stories. An extensive research spanning for a period of more than a year, made him collect all the information required to create the world for his film. He also talked about how lucky he was to find Ramnath Choudhary, the man who played the Algoja in the film. His inspiration behind the character was to put someone who looked deep into the audience’s consciousness while they themselves watched the film, which he achieved by breaking the fourth wall cinematically. He wanted to have an Algoja player for that purpose, and as luck would have it, Ramnath Choudhary was apt for the character.

When asked about the idea behind the story, Dinesh S. Yadav said that after getting admission in FTII, one of the most prestigious film schools in India, he was introduced to Vijaydan Detha, a noted Indian writer of Rajasthani literature. Dinesh S. Yadav loves to travel, and during the making of his film, wherever he went, there was a scarcity of water. So, the idea was to create a film about the scarcity of water, and again, luck favored the debutant director as his producer’s village was the perfect location for the film. There he found out that the small village areas have more problems regarding the water. He mentioned that our civilization, no matter how historical it has been, wouldn’t have lasted this far if it wasn’t for water. He discovered that this tiny place faced the world’s most crucial problem, and there was no solution to it. He developed his story from that perspective; thus, “Turtle” found its roots.


On Casting Sanjay Mishra

While writing the story, some of the characters pop up, just like Sanjay Mishra had always been Dinesh S. Yadav’s priority for the role. So, when he narrated the story to Sanjay Mishra, he was given 20 minutes until the tea was prepared. Dinesh S. Yadav started reading the story, and Mr. Mishra canceled the meeting he had afterward as he was too involved in listening to the narration. Sanjay Mishra went completely expressionless while listening to the story; the debutant director was incredibly inspired by that gesture. He also mentioned how he was inspired by legendary directors while putting Ramnath Choudhary on screen. He wanted to create a god-like essence around him, leaving the audience with a dilemma of whether he was actually present on the screen or was just a mirage.

The Challenges

The challenges Dinesh S. Yadav had to face during the shoot were immense, as, in May every year, Rajasthan has its own way of welcoming visitors. Heat waves can be experienced throughout the state during that time period. There was a scene where Sanjay Mishra walked toward the camera, and suddenly a sandstorm filled the screen. It was a real sand storm, and everyone was asked to pack up for shooting, but Sanjay Mishra asked Dinesh S. Yadav whether he wanted to use the storm or not; when the director said yes, Mr. Mishra was ready for the take. Dinesh asked his DOP to capture the shot, but there were risks involved as there was a possibility that the camera might get damaged. They all took the chance, and it turned out to be one of the most moving shots in the film.


Again, in a scene where Ramkaran Choudhary places himself underneath the sand,  it got so hot that Dinesh Sir was doubtful about asking him to shoot the scene. Sanjay Mishra asked him a couple of times about the shot, and when he came to know about the circumstances, he said to put an umbrella on the spot so that the sand loses heat. Although the sand doesn’t lose much heat, Sanjay Mishra gave a brilliant shot at that temperature. On the other hand, it was tough to shoot with so many children and non-actors around, but Dinesh S. Yadav found a helping hand from his associate, Ruhin. He said Ruhin molded the non-actors on the right track and made the children more comfortable. The children became so enthusiastic about the shoot that some put a lot of improvisation into their acting. So, yes, there were many challenges, but Dinesh S. Yadav had a team that never let him down.

Director’s Take On “Turtle”

While discussing the story and its impact, Dinesh S. Yadav beautifully portrayed the connection between the title of the film and Ramkaran, the film’s lead character. He described how “turtles” are always looking for the source of the water. In the film, Ramkaran is also searching for the source of water. He is always digging the dry ground to look for the source. Another metaphor that he talked about was that the only place in the film where he found water was in the eyes of Ramkaran. That is something pretty extraordinary to say. As he discussed, the film introduces the whole concept in the second shot, where Ramkaran is digging a dry well. But the story starts from there; the crisis of migration, the conflict of the locals leaving everything behind, and the water scarcity. People are selling water, which is ironic in its own way. This triggered all the sentiments of Dinesh S. Yadav; hence he created a film that explains the ground reality. People around him thought he was taking a lot of risk to deliver a mere 70-minute-long feature, but he was very confident from the beginning as his vision was to bring out the social message; nothing else mattered to him.


The Journey From A Small Town To A National Award-Winning Director

Dinesh S. Yadav started learning more about the world of cinema at FTII. He got to know more about Tarkovsky, Godard, and Hitchcock and got influenced by a specific type of storytelling. His journey started in 2015 when he thought about making a movie of his own. He began with a couple of short films before coming up with the idea of “Turtle.” Although he humorously said that winning a National Award changes nothing. The struggle remains the same, and as long as you take a reasonable amount of time to create your story, it is always hard for the directors to find a producer. The pandemic hit right after he got the National Award, so the timing was not good for him.

About ‘Waah Zindagi’ And Working With Vijay Raaz

After “Turtle,” Dinesh S. Yadav made his second film named “Waah Zindagi” in which he casted ace actor, Vijay Raaz. According to Dinesh Sir, Vijay Raaz has his own set of rules. He said that Vijay Raaz always catches the essence of the story without worrying much about the script. It’s like he delivers something so perfect that even the director doesn’t bother discussing the script with him. It is always like “scene kya hai (what’s the scene about)” for him. Whenever Vijay Raaz starts acting, Dinesh says that his eyes are glued on him. He also gives viable suggestions to the director; he is very open-minded, and you can explain everything to him. He is also very friendly, and hospitable to work with.


Dinesh also talked about Manoj Joshi, who becomes very friendly with the director and always asks what he needs to do. He devotes himself so much to the character that he prefers to have silence on the sets so that he can concentrate on his character and the scenes. Dinesh also added how enthusiastic Naveen Kasturia and Plabita Borthakur are and how they always question the director about the script and what they should do. It was Dinesh S. Yadav who always created an atmosphere where anybody could reach out to anyone. This process maintains the friendly ambiance in the set, which benefits the entire process.

Future Endeavors

When asked about any legendary actors he would like to work with in the future, Dinesh said he sincerely wants to work with Kamal Haasan. He would also like to direct stars like Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh someday. He said he had the perfect script for Kamal Haasan and wished to read the story in front of him. He also wants to enter the OTT space, as he thinks the directors of his kind have the perfect audience there. We hope that his wishes do come true.



The system of the industry disappoints him in many ways. He said they ask for the stories, but the producers don’t even read them. Most of the time, the interns read them and then reject them. This is very disheartening for writers and storytellers who expect a constructive answer or suggestion for their script. But the reality is that the ones rejecting the story do not have any qualifications to do that. Also, he talks about filmmakers who lost their will to make films and started looking for jobs. The popular media giants and publications never talk about their movies; they never give any shoutouts to independent filmmakers, writers, or cinematographers. Even the journalists of the new generation are more concerned about pop-culture movies and star-ridden films. Integrity is rare, as it always has been, and this puts every new filmmaker or aspiring one in an extremely difficult state. Dinesh S. Yadav concludes his conversation by thanking “Film Fugitives” for taking the initiative to talk to the directors who deserve more attention.

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Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy is a creative content writer. Formerly he used to write film reviews on an international film festival website named Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. He also interviewed global directors. He also interviewed one of the characters from the show 'Trailer Park Boys', Mr. Bernard Robichaud, platformed in Netflix. Shovan tends to write through the third person narrative and he loves to do psychoanalysis. He can't say that he has mastered it but that is some sort of hobby of his. Film is a platform where he loves to spend most of his time learning.

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