Stories on wheels: Meet the duo who biked across South America and made a documentary along the way


Ever since Rohith Subramanian obtained a copy of Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries for his tenth birthday, he dreamt of biking across South America with a pal. Two years in the past, not solely did the dream come true however it’s now being become a documentary. Titled Lost and Found in the Americas, it’s all set to launch on August 16. “It was a chance meeting with underwater filmmaker Sukesh Viswanath at an ad shoot — before I left for an eight-month trip across Europe in 2017 — that started the conversation,” says Subramanian, who give up his job as an entrepreneur 5 years in the past. Soon, he began travelling on his bike and working full-time on model collaborations. After getting back from his journey, the 26-year-old began planning the journey with Viswanath who was on the verge of quitting his job as a artistic producer in Mumbai. “I had no reason to say no. I am not a full time traveller and I don’t have a massive following on Instagram. All I want to do is to shoot and tell stories,” says Viswanath, 28, who has completed initiatives for CNN, BBC and National Geographic.

The duo spent weeks awaiting model sponsorship however when nothing materialised they flew to New York in mid-2018, stayed with a pal who helped rake in a couple of sponsors. They reached Colombia in the second week of December and rode across the nation and on to Ecuador and Peru from January 15 to May 15, 2019. “Even after reaching New York, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. It’s funny to look back now at how we had no money, did not know anyone in the country and knew three Spanish words between the two of us!” says Viswanath, who returned to India in May final yr, whereas Subramanian continued driving down until Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) for the remainder of the yr and received again to India in February 2020.

Open itinerary

One would think about that a six-month journey in a international nation would require a nice deal of planning, however not on this case. “I am old school and figure out things on the go as the beauty of life is the uncertainty of tomorrow. Why ruin it by planning?” says Subramanian, including that the greatest a part of the journey was how their personalities have been so totally different, and but understanding they couldn’t do the journey with out the different. “Sukesh is very by-the-book whereas I am the opposite. He has to take two showers a day and wash the bike everyday, but I just wait for the rains to take care of both!”

Subramanian admits that cash was a main constraint. “We had very little and it kept coming in patches. There were days I used to sleep with my bank balance at zero and wake up the next morning to see a brand crediting an amount that could help us survive for another month.” They say compromising on meals and fancy lodging helped them get by. “Nobody believed we didn’t have money. I had not saved up for this trip because I wasn’t sure if it was even going to happen. If nothing worked, I knew I could use my credit card to pay for a flight back for us,” says Viswanath, including how they stayed with folks befriended on social media and even camped in jungles. “Initially, we were worried about being mugged as we had a lot of equipment and the altitude was a challenge too. Close to Lima in Peru, one of our bikes broke down in the middle of a desert. Fortunately, a police tow truck appeared out of nowhere and ferried us to the next town to help find a mechanic,” he says.

The duo shooting in Colombia

Stories from the street

With planning-on-the-go their mantra, it isn’t stunning that the documentary took form when on the street. From Narco tourism in Colombia and Bogota’s underground graffiti scene to on a regular basis tales, the 1.25 hour-long documentary captures an uncommon mixture of tales. On the street for the final 10 years (after quitting his job as a tennis coach in Madrid) Diego left for South America with a field of yeast his grandmother gave him. “We met him at the hostel we were staying in. Today, he bakes sourdough bread twice a week and spends the other five days gazing at the sun. He takes one day at a time and I connect with this philosophy,” says Subramanian, who is now scripting his subsequent documentary on filter espresso tradition.

For Viswanath, nonetheless, it was capturing the widespread man’s perspective on Narco tourism that piqued his curiosity. “Most of what we know about Colombia and Pablo Escobar is from television series. Nobody knew the common man’s story. When we got a chance to listen to them talk, it revealed a lot.” For occasion, a information of a strolling tour in Medellin stated that on her way to high school, she used to rely the variety of our bodies along with her buddies. “Whoever spotted the maximum, won,” says Viswanath, including how this led them to comparable tales like that of a man who had misplaced his father (a cop) to the drug trafficking disaster. “He instructed us ‘Imagine you are trying to forget someone who ruined your family, but, everyday you see someone wearing a T-shirt with Escobar’s face or speaking about him and that is all resulting from the TV present (Narcos)’.”

Rohith Subramanian playing chess with Enrique Herrera

Alongside modifying the documentary, Subramanian has been spending time enjoying chess this lockdown. Something he has been doing usually after assembly Enrique Herrera. “Several people play chess on the streets of Bogota and we noticed an elderly gentleman on a wheelchair playing two games simultaneously. When we approached Herrera, he revealed how he got stabbed on his spine eight years ago and was confined to a wheelchair ever since.” He stumbled upon chess on a go to to the metropolis’s centre and it modified his life. “ Herrera says he forgets the physical pain when he is playing. His favourite piece on the board is the knight as it can jump above everyone and doesn’t have to walk, just like him,” says Subramanian, recalling that they needed to rush the filming as the man’s pal had handed away that day. “We were hurrying the shots and apologising for the delay. He laughed and asked us to take our time as his dead friend won’t be mad at him for being late for the funeral!”

Lockdown edits

Sifting by way of over 250 hours of footage wasn’t straightforward and the pandemic led to additional delays. The duo has spent 80% of their time over the final 4 months modifying the movie. “We were to get together and work on the documentary’s first cut but we’re all in different cities now. I am shuttling between Mysore and Udhagamandalam and he is in Bengaluru so we couldn’t meet and shoot a few portions and do the dubbing on time,” says Viswanath, including how they needed to courier onerous drives to the editor in Jammu as transferring massive recordsdata just about was unimaginable. Nevertheless, they’re relieved it’s time for the launch. “Small things hampered the documentary’s progress but Rohith kept reminding me to be grateful that we could finish what we started a year ago,” he concludes.

Lost and Found in the Americas releases on August 16 on Youtube Originals

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