“A beginning. Character development. Oh! A plot twist and an end. Cinema is a fantastic kind of art.
When I first started watching films during my graduation at Image College of Arts, Animation and Technology in Chennai, I was impressed. It made me wonder why I never came across them earlier in my childhood. I unfortunately didn’t have that kind of exposure or finances. My father passed away when I was 5. My mother ran a tea stall and I helped her with it. As a child, I thought I would be an engineer or a civil servant. I would spend hours together in the public library to gain more knowledge on other worldy things. Oh, life was exciting! However, after failing the IIT entrance exam a few times, I took up visual effects and that was my biggest breakthrough. I met people who would discuss cinema and I could just listen to them all day. The topic of discussion wasn’t always just Indian cinema, but films across the world. We would go global and travel places through these words! I would go to Burma Bazaar in Chennai and buy DVDs. Sometimes, I wouldn’t go to college and instead I’d spend my time watching films – classics, hits, rom-coms – everything. In those two years, I watched as many as 1,000+ films!
It wasn’t the actors that interested me. It was the cinematography and everything behind the scenes. It was always the mysterious aspects of making films that fascinated me the most! That was the time I decided to pursue filmmaking. But I didn’t want to make a regular commerical product. My ideas were influenced by the kind of books I read all my life and they were a lot! So you can imagine how much of a whirlwind my mind was.
So for my first documentary, I headed to the Sundarbans in 2008 to make a film on life without electricity. Topics such as this continues to interest me and I went on to make a film on fluorosis, Dreadful Fate, which exposed ground water contamination in Nalgonda district of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh. International festival screenings and awards aside, it helped raise funds to provide safe drinking water to 25 villages in India. One of the reasons for this film to gain that kind of attention and impact, apart from the topic of course, is the team. We were a group of people who met on a social networking website with the idea of using our skills to create something thought-provoking. That’s kind of cinema I had watched and I was proud that I could create something similar.
That film also got me a fellowship opportunity in 2011 to study motion picture directing at Scottsdale School of Film and Theatre in Arizona, USA. What an experience it was! Apart from the skill set, it gave me an opportunity to meet like-minded people from different parts of the world. Back home, I started to work with the Telangana government to make short films for their departments including tourism and culture. While I’ve made many films, working on projects about your traditions and heritage is a completely different feeling. It was a pleasure to watch my film on Telangana’s tourism being screened at various international film festivals in Cannes and Toronto. It’s put our state and history on the global map. That’s a reward in itself!”
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