The turning point in my professional life came when I won an Oscar nomination in 2005 for my film, Little Terrorist. This marked a great achievement in my career as a filmmaker.
However, on a personal plane, the turning point came when I was unable to release my film, The Forest, in India. It was a humbling experience. I’d finished shooting the film in 2006 but spent two years trying to sell it to distributors. There were not many takers at that time as the film was devoid of the quintessential Bollywood elements of song and dance. I am glad that it’s finally seen the light of day this year.
The disappointment of not getting the film released in India encouraged me to go out and look for new ways of making movies. It also helped me re-evaluate my skills as a filmmaker. During this period of turmoil I took a break for almost three years and headed for Kashmir where I made two documentaries — Inshallah, Kashmir: Living Terror and Inshallah, Football. Importantly, I learnt how to detach myself from my work and chill out.
I wanted to be an actor but as luck would have it I evolved into a filmmaker. I was born and raised in Calcutta but moved to Delhi later with my parents. I was into the performing arts all through school and college. After completing a bachelor’s degree in media and communication from London’s Goldsmiths College I returned to Delhi and did post-video production work from 1996-2001. Then I went to the London Film School for a Masters degree in filmmaking. I dropped out after two semesters and invested my college fees in my first film, Road to Ladakh (2003). Thus began my journey as a filmmaker.
Right now, I’m writing a film called Hype about a young woman’s tryst with high society and the world of fashion. I want to make good films and tell interesting stories through them.
(As told to Lubna Salim)