Awards Daily’s Megan McLachlan chats with the Pittsburgh doctor/filmmaker Ravi Godse, whose work attracts the likes of Richard Kind, Steve Guttenberg, and Tovah Feldshuh.
“In case I get a stat call from the ER, I’ll put you on hold.”
Thankfully, my call with Pittsburgh doctor Ravi Godse doesn’t get interrupted, so we can talk about the other job that keeps him busy—being a filmmaker.
“Rather than LA or New York, I think I’m better in Pittsburgh because people pay more attention to it. I’m sort of a novelty,” says Godse. “I love the town, I love the people.”
Godse grew up in India before coming to the United States, and now in addition to being a doctor, he’s celebrating the release of his fourth comedy, Remember Amnesia, with engagements across the country. His latest film stars Dileep Rao (Avatar) as a U.S.-based physician from India who loses his memory during an accident while back in his home country and as his memory comes back, he can’t remember whether he killed his wife or not! It’s a comedy, a genre the doctor is drawn to.
“For any comedy to be successful, there has to be an element of drama. In my first movie, a lot of my Indian friends were really mad at me about a joke I made about India. The lawyer character in my movie doesn’t know anything about the world. He says, ‘What is India? Is India a country? Was India in the Olympics?’ And my character gets really mad at him and says, ‘What do you mean? Didn’t you see us? We paraded between Honduras and Indonesia?’—implying that India didn’t get any medals. My Indian friends got really mad at me, but the thing is that’s true! it’s a huge country, but we don’t win any medals in the Olympics. For any comedy to be successful, it needs to have a pinch of real life and some drama.”
India may not win many Olympic medals, but if there were a medal for fastest film shoot, the economical Godse might win. While he takes up to 9 months to draft a script, he shoots lightning quick.
“With [Remember Amnesia], the whole movie was shot in 8 days flat—including shoots in Pittsburgh and India. I used two cameras. I work very fast and I know exactly what I want, and I go for it.”
“Son, keep making movies—people will watch anything!”
While Godse was in medical school, he used to accompany his cousin, a then-struggling actress, as a chaperone to movie sets.
“Then she suddenly got a hit and she ended up being the highest paid Asian star. She became India’s Julia Roberts.” His cousin is actress Madhuri Dixit, the winner of six Best Actress FilmFare awards, one of the oldest and most prestigious film honors in India.
While on set with Dixit, Godse used to wonder why he didn’t get into movies himself.
“In India, it would have been hard to do, because India is a very class-based society still. If a doctor started making movies, they would fit him for a straight jacket. They wouldn’t let him do that. But when I came to the United States, anything goes.”
Once in Pittsburgh, Godse went to film school for two to three years before he started making movies himself. He and I shared a laugh that we both went to the same Pittsburgh school for classes—Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
“In my first movie, I put a joke about Filmmakers that they didn’t like. [In the movie], I’m looking for something to do because I’m distracted. My secretary tells me, ‘Why don’t you go to Pittsburgh Filmmakers?’ I asked her, ‘Who told you?’ She said, ‘It’s right there in the brochure!’ I actually partially shot my first film at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.”
While his wife, a fellow physician, often wonders why her husband continues to dabble in filmmaking when he’s a doctor, his mother offered some interesting advice to him.
“My mom said to me, ‘Son, you keep making movies. People will watch anything.’ Between Amazon and Netflix, it’s so random as to what becomes a hit.”
Med School is Easier Than Driving Steve Guttenberg to the Airport
Any good director puts his cast and crew first, which is also a trait of a good doctor. Godse says when it comes to juggling being a physician and being a filmmaker, his priorities are simple.
“The patient comes first. If I get an urgent call, I will drop everything for my patients. Most doctors pretend how bad their life is and how busy they are. At my 25th med school reunion, everybody was crying about how hard their life was. But when I asked them if they put the clock back 25 years, would they still choose to be a doctor? All of them still chose to be doctors. It’s a fairly good life.”
With filmmaking, Godse claims to have an unfair advantage as a physician because he know so many people, now including the likes of Steve Guttenberg.
“I like to keep in touch with people. I was in New York and I texted [Steve Guttenberg]. I said, ‘Hey, Steve! I’m in New York. You want to have coffee?’ He said, ‘I’m going to the airport.’ I said, ‘Why don’t I drop you? You don’t have to take the cab!’ So I took him in my car, we reached Newark Liberty, and Steve Guttenberg tells me at Newark Liberty, ‘I think it was JFK.’ I said, ‘Dude, do you have any idea where Newark is and where JFK is?'”
Already hard at work on his next feature, Godse says he doesn’t know how good of a filmmaker he is, as his films speak for themselves.
“Hopefully I’m getting better and better,” he says. “But I tell people, god forbid, if they have a medical question that they need answered for them or their family member, I’m there for them. I’m fairly good, and I know a lot of people.”
Visit Remember Amnesia for more information and where to see the movie at a theater near you.