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Rukshana Tabassum : In A Chat With A Film-maker, Artist

Rukshana Tabassum

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
I wasn’t allowed to watch too many films when I was growing up.The only films I watched were the regional films that were shown on Sunday afternoons on DD national and during the week long children films festival in my hometown once in two years.Among the films I watched Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella left a lasting impression on me.I couldn’t stop thinking about that film for many days after I watched it.

Reading books took up most of my time during childhood. I grew up reading everything that I could lay my hands on as a child – Tagore, Assamese Folk tales, Aesop Fables,Stories from Hindu and Greek Mythology and Premchand to name a few. I was interested in stories of all kinds. Once I finished reading most of the books at home my parents had to get me a subscription in the children’s section in a local library to satiate my appetite

Besides that my mother a self taught artist exposed me to art at an very early age. Besides her Pranab Barua an eminent contemporary artist of Assam played an important role in shaping my aethestics too. I had the priviledge to train under him for a couple of years and spend hours in his house which nothing less than an art gallery. I grew up seeing art around me that made me think and my mentors taught me to question and helped me build my aesthetic sense through experience.

I am also a classical dancer (Bharatnatyam) and was exposed to Natyashashtra by Bharat Muni that lays the foundation of Indian Aesthetics at a very tender age.I guess this also laid my foundation to undertstand the different rasas, bhavas and helped me analyse and understand different characters.

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Dhiraj Meshram : In a chat with a Director

dhiraj portrait

Dhiraj Meshram

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Influences were Hindi films running in cinema halls of my town or villages where I used to go during school vacations.  One film use to run for many weeks unlike nowadays. The films that I liked, I used to watch many times until I knew them by heart.

How did you first become interested in film direction?
I guess it was a gradual progression from being an avid cinegoer who used to watch the films as a child does- as stories, drama, action etc which gradually changed into preference for films with a specific starcast and then to want to tell these stories myself so that was the beginning of being interested in Film Direction. It happened automatically, there was no conscious effort. I think weekly cinema magazines in Hindi were a huge attraction in small towns, one read them cover to cover. And even collected them Apart from writing about film stars, they wrote about film directors too.

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Nilanjan Datta : In a chat with an Editor – Director

Nilanjan Profile

Nilanjan Datta

Nilanjan Datta is a graduate of Film Editing from Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. Before making `The Head Hunter’, his first feature film, Nilanjan has made short fiction films and documentary films. He has also been awarded the National Award for his documentary film ‘Bhanga Gara’ in the year 2009. Nilanjan was born in Assam and grew up in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. `The Head Hunter’ was part of Mumbai International Film festival and Indian Panorama at the 46th International Film festival of India, and Canada International Film Festival, Vancouver. He received Special Jury Mention for Best Debut Direction at the 25th Aravindan Purushkaram, Kerela and Special Jury mention at the 11th Prag Cine Awards, Assam. He has been awarded the National film Award for “The Head Hunter” this year. Presently he is an Associate Professor of film editing at FTII, Pune.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Cinema happened in my life pretty early. My father is a film buff and from a very early age, I started to watch films with him. And he introduced me to Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara, which is also one of his favorite films.
My uncle was the first press photographer of Assam and had a photo studio, where I used to learn how to develop and print black and white photographs. The magic of image appearing in the printing paper inside a dark room used to fascinate me. He was also a theater and cinema buff and influenced me in my childhood.
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Ramachandra PN : In a Chat With a Film Director

Ramchandra PN - Director

Ramchandra PN is a 1991 ‘Screenplay writing and Direction’ graduate from the ‘Film and TV Institute of India’.  Over the years, he has been making documentaries, features, short films and TV programs. His first feature film SUDDHA (The Cleansing Rites) in Tulu language won him the Best Indian Film at the Osian Cinefan Festival of Asian Films, New Delhi Indian 2006. It also won him a Hubert Bals exhibition grant in the following year, through which he showed the film at over hundred Tulu speaking villages in Coastal Karnataka South India. His second feature film PUTAANI PARTY (The Kid Gang) in Kannada language won the Best Children’s film at the Indian National Film Awards in 2009. It was also in consideration for nomination for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. His third feature HAAL-E-KANGAAL (The Bankrupts) in Hindi language is making its screening rounds. He is also occasionally involved in film academics, conducting film workshops in various institutions.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Like most children growing up in the 1970s in any small town Karnataka, I was a die hard fan of the Kannada super star Dr Rajkumar. Later on, one shifted allegiance to the angry young man of Hindi films, Amithab Bachchan- after getting star struck by some of his films like Don, Amar Akbar Antony and Parvarish. I don’t think there was any inclination serious towards cinema, during childhood.

How did you first become interested in film direction?
It was in college that I got involved in Kannada theater; as an actor first and then in back stage and direction. I also took a liking to still photography, thanks to a Pentax camera that was gifted to me by a relative. It surprised me when my guru in theater told me that there are schools in India that teach film direction. By the time I finished my degree, I was pretty sure that I needed to be a film director.

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Pushpendra Singh : Interview

Pushpendra_300dpi

An alumnus of the Film & Television Institute of India and Berlin Talent Campus, Pushpendra began his career as an actor playing one of the leads in Amit Dutta’s Venice award winning film ‘Aadmi Ki Aurat Aur Anya Kahaniya’. He then went on to assist Amit Dutta on his next feature ‘Nainsukh’ and the latest ‘Sattvi Sair- The Seventh Walk’. He has also assisted Anup Singh on his feature ‘Qissa- The Ghost Is A Lonely Traveler’. 

His film ‘Lajwanti’ (directed, produced and acted by him) and Ich Will Mich Nicht Künstlich Aufregen Aka Asta Transfer ( as an actor) directed by Maximilian Linz premiered at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival in 2014. 

Currently he teaches at Film & Television Institute of India in the department of Acting. 

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
I studied in a boarding school where every Saturday we were shown Hindi movies. Occasionally we were shown a Malayalam or an Hollywood film. But, it was during the vacations that once I saw ‘Pather Panchali’ on Doordarshan and related to the images despite it being in Bengali. I started watching regional classics on Doordarshan since then. I looked forward to watching ‘Gandhi’ every October 2nd on Doordarshan.

I was fond of literature since my childhood. Raduga Publications from Russia would come to our school with Hindi and English translations of the Russian folk tales and I started collecting those books.

How did you first become interested in film direction?
It was while working with Barry John in his theatre group in Delhi, we would not only act but even direct small acts based on certain themes. Barry exposed us to Cinema outside India and since then I was interested in directing a film one day.

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In conversation with Batul Mukhtiar

batul

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
My earliest memories are of reading. And of watching films. I grew up in the heart of Bombay’s film land, around Grant Road, where all the film distribution offices used to be, and where there was a cinema hall on every turn of the street. My parents, specially my mother watched films regularly. I grew up watching 1-3 films a week, this in the time when there was no television. And reading at least 3-5 books a week, thanks to the multitude of lending libraries around. Art was drawing classes in and outside school, or the embroidery and crochet the women around me were so adept at.

How did you first become interested in film direction?
As a child, reading film magazines, I would often play at giving interviews myself. I play-acted at being an actor. I had no concept of a film director’s job. Just after college, I got a role at FTII in a student diploma exercise. After that, I acted in several student exercises. But from my very first experience of a film shoot, I was clear that I did not want to be an actor. I hated being instructed. I knew that I had to be the one giving instructions.

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Abhaya Simha : Interview

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Abhaya Simha was born and brought up in Mangalore (Karnataka, INDIA). After his graduation, got into Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Abhaya Simha finished his direction course in 2006 and went to Bangalore to pursue a career in Kannada Film Industry. His first film Gubbachigalu (2008) won him the National Award for the Best Children’s Film and was screened in several International Film Festivals. His second feature film was a Kannada and Malyama bi-lingual film titled Shikari (2012) starred Malayalam Actor, Mammootty. Third film Sakkare (2013) was a Kannada film which was a romantic comedy starring Ganesh. He has also done documentary films, corporate films and campaign films in all these years.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
My grand father, G.T Narayana Rao was a well-known science writer in Kannada. My father had a bookshop and a publication house in Mangalore. Both of them had interest in theatre, literature etc. I think this had great influence on me during my formative years. Being from a small town, Mangalore the exposure to world cinema was not much at that time. Cinema interested me later when I took up photography.

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Ajita Suchitra Veera : Interview

A Film Director and Producer,  Ajita is a former alumnus of the Film Institute, Pune (FTII) and studied Science and Theatre from 1995-2000. Her short features have been showcased widely around the globe and acclaimed for their visually beautiful and experimental style of filmmaking.

Short Feature ‘Notes On Her’ was an OSCAR entry in 2003. Her great passion for Cinema and film making, led her to found her own Film Company Imaginem Cinema Pvt Ltd, which she established to create the necessary space for imaginative and provocative cinema in India in 2009. Her gritty, passionate and poetic feature film ‘Ballad of Rustom’ which she has written, directed and produced is premiering at the 12th Osian’s Cine Fan Film Festival in New Delhi on 28th, July 2012.
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As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
My earliest childhood influences came from my parents and grandparents: my father is a graphic artist, photographer and cartoonist and also loved Cinema. I have spent much of my childhood cutting art works, doing design layouts and printing photographs, and watching films with Dad and then there was the atmosphere at home-no restrictions!
I remember watching movies since I was 5 years-I would get up at 4 am before school and watch films-it was that time when I could be completely alone with myself and be lost in a film-I would be watching late night Metro movies at 12:00 am-and they never restricted me-studies were never a priority-my parents believed first that I must get a holistic education. It’s another matter that I turned out to be a gold medalist in College.
My maternal grandfather was considered the maverick in the family. A writer and theatre guy, who had spent many years in Southern India dabbling in films; he owned theatres in early 50s showing Hollywood classics. My Paternal grandfather was a singer-actor and sculptor and did street theatre roaming in troupes.

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Surabhi Sharma : Interview

Surabhi graduated from FTII in 1998, having majored in Film Direction.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Well, my early influences towards cinema was cinema- hindi films, all kinds of films, anything that could be viewed in the cinema hall. I must say that in the late 70s and early 80s it was possible, to a certain degree, to watch different kinds of films in cinema halls. NFDC showed films, there was the usual fare of commercial films, CFSI occasionally organised sunday morning screenings, Films Division got to show their films at the start of each film, Hollywood films could be watched, occasionally there would be a regional film or a World cinema film that would be screened.This was in Ahmedabad. I think I grew up with the idea that there were many kinds of films. My parents being hindi film buffs took me for a film almost every friday, to most new releases.I saw good films, lousy films, ludicrous films, fun films. I read as much as a general avid reader would, nothing spectacular or special. Only in college did one get exposed to world cinema in a somewhat serious way, and to art and photography.

How did you first become interested in film direction?
I am not sure when I decided that it was direction i want to do.

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Avijit Mukul Kishore : Interview

Avijit graduated from FTII in December 1995, majoring in Cinematography.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema?
My early exposure to cinema was through Hindi film music heard on the radio, or  played on a record player. I do remember images of films watched in a theatre. Like Navin Nishcol walking towards camera on a Bombay street in ‘Victoria No. 203’, a truck running over a mill worker in ‘Deewar’ and the lights coming on around the screen at the end of ‘Aap Ki Kasam’ as Rajesh Khanna walks away from camera. For me these are the earliest memories of cinema – one obscure shot from a mainstream film.

There was a theatre called Alpana across the road from where we lived, in Model Town, Delhi. Once a friend of my father’s led us past the manager’s cabin, through the projection booth to a small parapet in front of the projectors, from where we watched Deewar! I only remember the truck from the film and was mortally afraid of trucks after that.
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