Feature debutant Natesh Hegde’s “Pedro,” which has its world premiere at Busan’s New Currents strand and has subsequent play dates at the BFI London Film Festival, explores the theme of outsiders in society.

The titular Pedro is a taciturn electrician in a forest village in the foothills of western India. He also does odd jobs and is frequently inebriated. An incident that he is in the thick of sets in motion a chain of events that exposes societal prejudices.

“A lot of things in the film are derived from my life or life around me,” Hegde told Variety. “Particularly ‘Pedro’ is a story of a person struggling to fit in the social norms. I have a fascination towards them. Many times I also struggled for acceptance so, when I thought of making a film, this subject was the first thing that occurred to me.”

“I was trying to look at how a person with power can manipulate the community and the mob mentality,” said Hegde. “This is not only limited to small towns. It’s everywhere.”

“Pedro” is produced by Rishab Shetty Films, the production outfit of Rishab Shetty, a hugely popular director in Kannada-language cinema, who frequently backs independent cinema. Hegde was introduced to Shetty by actor and director Raj B. Shetty. “Rishab Shetty got involved at the earlier stages and was excited by listening to the story,” said Hegde. “Even though he practices different kinds of film he has a concern that there must be diversity in films. It was not that tough to raise financing because Rishab backed the film.”

The cast of “Pedro” includes Gopal Hegde, Ramakrishna Bhat Dundi, Raj B. Shetty, Medini Kelamane and Nagaraj Hegde.

“Pedro” was one of the projects that won at India’s Film Bazaar in 2019.

Selected at premium festivals like Busan and London is a huge boost for Hegde. “It’s really heartening that Busan, London and many other festivals showed great interest in the film,” said Hegde. “It gives strength to express more freely. The festivals are not just impressed by the subject, but also appreciating the form of the film that is a validation to our efforts in the cinematic medium.”

Next up for Hegde is an adaptation of a short story by Kannada writer Amaresh Nugudoni and another about the partition of a family which is again partly inspired by his life. Both are in the scripting stage.

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Natesh Hegde