Friday, July 30, 2010

Saurabh Shukla speaks to students of Mumbai University

Speaking on the topic of " Careers in Cinema ", Mr Shukla said that to be a Film Maker, one should obviously know the art of Direction but should acquire knowledge of all aspects of Cinema or at least have the working knowledge in areas of Cinematography, Writing, Editing, Acting and Production Design. He recalled his own days as a student in Delhi when he was studying for his M.Com when he was trying to be a " Nobody " He said that that was the time when he sensed a certain calling towards theatre and dramatics.He said that he was never formally educated in anything that is part of his profession.Those days, he said, when I look back, I worked very very hard but it was not work....everything that I did gave me a lot of joy...Every morning , after waking up, I felt the eagerness to go to the theatre for rehearsals, I read and analysed a lot of literature..and tried to analyse great works to the best of my ability....but had I been formally trained, I would have gone further and at a much quicker pace.Mr Shukla said " The greatest thing that formal education gives you is a way, a much richer scientific and methodical path. I never had an opportunity that you people are getting now.

He said that the if a person is talented and works sincerely, he is bound to be successful in the world of Film and television which could not only pay very well, but also give enormous satisfaction and recognition. As a parting note, he said that in the journey that the students were about embark upon, he suggested to make the best use of all that they will get and wished the students all the very best .

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Filmmaker of " Harishchandrachi factory " (The Factory of Harishchandra) visits Digital Academy - The Film School

Paresh Mokashi , Writer, Director of the Marathi film " Harishchandrachi factory " or " The factory of Harishchandra', India's entry to the Oscars, while on a visit to Digital Academy - The Film School, surprised the students when he said that he had never assisted any Film maker before he started making this film and also revealed that the first time that he ever visited a Film set was for this debut film of his. He had been part of Marathi theatre for a long time as an actor, writer and Director . He said that the greatest two qualities that any Film Maker should have apart from the know how of the technique of Film Making is clarity of mind and stubbornness. He said that most of what he learnt about Film making was by seeing films, many made by the masters of Cinema. He said that he did spend a lot time watching the treasures of world cinema in the National Film Archives in Pune and it is by watching these films that he enhanced his visual sense and knowledge. He said that this is what helped him have clarity of mind as to what he wanted the film to look like and this was most of the battle won. If a Director is confused, then the crew will take over the decision making and ultimately the look of the film will reflect that. Once a director knows what he wants, stubbornness helps in sticking to his decisions.

Speaking about the film's journey, he said that patience is a necessary quality in this business. He said the the budget of this period film was about 3.5 crores , an unusually high figure for an Indian regional film whose recovery in the box office is very difficult. He said the when he selected his crew, all of them ie the cinematographer, costume designer etc had never done a single film independently before.After the wait for finance of almost three years, he was the only person in the crew who was making his debut...all of the other technicians were experienced by a few films...

Paresh then spoke about research he had to do for a period subject such as this. The film concentrates about a period in the life of Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, when he made his first film " Raja ( King) Harishhandra". The entire story deliberately was chosen not to be a biographic but about the time when Phalke was Directing and producing his first film. It was also given a humorous touch because Mr Phalke, according to many sources did have a good sense of humor. Research was an exciting part of the process because not only the city and costumes looked different, also the sound of the rickshaws operating then had to be sourced and or produced to get as close as possible to the original.

Speaking on the Oscars, he said that I am not surprised the my film did not make it to the final list of the Oscars as the final five were much better than my own film.He was happy to inform that the next film revolves around an archaeological treasure hunt and is linked to the journey of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata .

The students were very enlightened by the visit of Mr Mokashi and after being given a tour of the Film School, Mr Mokashi was delighted with the facilities of the school, its vision and objectives of creating visionary Film makers of tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Guest Lecture by renowned Lyricist- Dialogue Writer- Singer, Mr. Swanand Kirkire at Digital Academy – The Film School.

Swanand Kirkire was born and brought up in India. In 1996 he graduated from National School of Drama and started doing theatre. He is one of the most versatile personalities in the Hindi film industry, having tried his hands at various aspects of filmmaking and always succeeding in his venture. Mr. Kirkire has written Lyrics for various films like “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi”, “Parineeta”, “3 Idiots”, “Paa”. He has won the National Award for Best Lyrics in 2007 for the song “Bande Mein Tha Dum” from the film, “Lage Raho Munna Bhai. He is also a Dialogue Writer, with films like “ Chameli”, Eklavya: The Royal Guard to his credit.

The song that has been going around inspiring people “ All eej well” from the film “3 Idiots” is written and sung by him along with Shaan and Sonu Nigam. He has also written and sung the song “Bawra mann dekne chala ek sapna” from the film “ Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi”.

Mr. Swanand Kirkire began the lecture by speaking about the importance of music and lyrics in Indian Cinema. A lyricist is known to accrue beautiful words of wisdom through their wealth of knowledge and experience, and songs add melody to it. Songs are a prominent part of Indian Cinema enhancing the emotions of a particular situation. They are sometimes so essential that stories are fashioned around them. Mr. Kirkire added that “The script plays a vital role to write a specific song. It is essential to know how the song is complimenting the story.

Writing is an inherent skill amongst few people but one can learn the skill by practicing it. Everyone has the talent to write, it’s a matter of sheer hard work and patience that is needed to reach a certain standard. Elaborating on this, he said, “My journey as a writer did not begin from childhood. I acquired the skill by reading a lot of poetry and listening to various lyrics and then tried to create some of my own. Being analytical of your own work also helps you grow tremendously. Creativity is a process; it depends on how you confine it within yourself.

Speaking about his versatile profile as a Lyricist, Dialogue Writer, and Singer, he said, “If you can do one thing appropriately at a time then you could achieve a lot but if you try to do everything at a time you may not go very far. Divide your tasks according to the time and then patiently work towards honing your skills. Wherever there is life, there is inspiration.

We have brimful of smart one-liners nonchalantly used in our daily conversations. In a country such as India which has a great culture of wit, lyricists are obligated to come up with interesting dialogues for which understanding the character, the strata they belong to, their values etc is very important. The dialogue writer has to be very clear in his mind about all these aspects because the Screenplay may not have all these things specified. The job of the dialogue writer is to enhance the story.

On asked about the usage of “Hinglish” in the lyrics, he said, “If a language does not change constantly with time, it becomes lifeless. We are constantly adapting to change. The entire country is speaking the language so a lyricist has to use a similar vocabulary to empathize with the audience. Citing an example from the Film “3 Idiots”, he said, “The film is based in the contemporary modern society of an engineering college and therefore the language of the film is written keeping the younger generation in mind, who would not accept anything ornamental, even the songs are straight from the heart… language should not be a barrier while displaying emotions”

Mr. Kirkire advised the students to work with conviction and believe in their work. Never consider your work as your baby but imagine placing it on a pedestal where it could be exposed to the outer world; it will help you gauge a clear perspective as to where you stand amongst others in the industry. He also mentioned that there is always a chance of failure but as a creative person your job is to concentrate on yourself and your work and create your own compositions for the audience to decide.

In his parting lines to the students, he said, “You have got a great opportunity to enhance your skills through Digital Academy. Since you are getting so much input from your faculty and Industry professionals here, do take advantage for this time may never come again. We want our Indian Cinema to go further”.

For more information contact:

Tel. no.: +91-22-28257009/+91-22-28257008

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dale Bhagwagar, renowned Bollywood publicist and PR, holds a guest lecture, at Digital Academy – The Film School

Dale Bhagwagar began his journey as a journalist twenty-three years ago, when he was just 14 years old. He contributed articles, poems to local newspapers and magazines in his hometown, Nagpur. Six years later, he joined a local newspaper as a trainee Sub-Editor and Reporter. After completing his graduation in English Literature he moved to Mumbai and was soon hired as the Chief Sub-Editor cum Reporter for the Bollywood gossip magazine “Cine Blitz”, which dealt with yellow journalism. That was the turning point in his life where he learnt the trick and trade of manipulating “Star images”. He is instrumental in shaping the careers of many celebrities. He has handled the PR for the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty, Priyanka Chopra, Esha Deol, Shiney Ahuja, Randeep Hooda and Vivek Oberoi, among 50 others.

He informed the students that the transition phase from the learning world as students to the real world as filmmakers in the “Big Bad Bollywood” would involve lot of effort, patience and an ability to adapt to situations and people. Commenting on this, he said, “When you are in the real world, when you are going to get out in the so called big bad Bollywood, the first thing one needs to do is unlearn certain things you learnt in schools and colleges. Schools and colleges teach you the basics but people work according to their experiences along with their team and it is very important to adapt to that team, their culture and their style of working”

He strongly believes that media has an upper hand in creating a perception in the minds of people and that is exactly when a publicist steps in. Elaborating on this, he said, “Publicists need to spin a very strong web of protection otherwise the media goes ahead to massacre brands and images the way it likes. That is why a publicist needs to be very firm and cautious while handling the Media sensibilities.

Throughout the session he emphasized on the line “We are living in a world where perception is reality” and that is exactly what PR does, it creates a perception in the minds of people propelling the image of a celebrity from downright negative to acceptable. His suggestions to the students about the benefits of PR and Media were, “Understand how the media functions, because ultimately you all are going to be made by your talent and then by media. How much ever talented a person is, if not projected properly, the career may not take that pace, and it could have taken”.

Talking further on PR skills, he said, “Good news is Good, but Bad news is even better…. Ugly publicity is the best as it travels faster and hits the hardest… The worst of all is no publicity, as you need to generate the buzz because without which it becomes difficult to grow faster in today’s world. You will grow with your talent but with a PR marketing mind, luck comes faster”.

His advice to the beginners was to change their mindsets about the way he or she thinks of PR. It's very important to project yourself the way you want others to perceive you.

Mr. Bhagwagar also advised the students to have dreams and then create roads to reach for those dreams. He said that you must be sure of your goals and then set a basic pattern and time frame to achieve those goals and carve a niche in the field you are interested in. He cited that “You have to stick to your roots, think of the sky and grow”. He also said that PR is just 10%, the remaining 90% is the talent you possess, you should be better filmmakers and the rest follows.

In his parting lines to the students, he said that “Start thinking of yourselves as brands. Subtle branding plays a huge role in the anticipation of your films. Though talent is what really matters, good support in PR skills takes any budding filmmaker to higher levels of success.

For more information contact:

Tel. no.: +91-22-28257009/+91-22-28257008

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guest Lecture by leading Filmmaker, Mr. Mohit Suri at Digital Academy – The Film School, Mumbai

Mohit Suri is an Indian Film Director, mostly known for his films, like Kalyug (2005) and Awarapan (2007). His uncle is Producer/Director Mahesh Bhatt and his cousin is Actor Emraan Hashmi who has starred in three of his films. He started his career as an Assistant Director, and made his debut as a Director with the film Zeher.

It was followed by Kalyug, which is his biggest success so far, was both a critical and commercial success. His third film Woh Lamhe (2006) was critically acclaimed overall. His next film Awarapan (2007) was both critically and commercially appreciated.

Mohit's latest film Raaz - The Mystery Continues (2009) was a Box Office Hit. His next film, Crook – Its good to be bad starring Emraan Hashmi again is set to be released shortly.

Mr. Suri commenced the lecture with a discussion about being successful Filmmakers; to which he said that there are no such formulas for being successful, nobody is aware about it. There are certain things that can lead you towards the path of being prominent Filmmakers but no guidelines as such has been laid down for anyone to follow. Make your own guidelines with a flexible outlook.

Elaborating on this, he said, being innovative in this industry is essential but by being innovative does not mean you need to be outlandish, it does not mean presenting the audience with something that they don’t comprehend. Innovation involves being relevant and enterprising. Usually it’s about rediscovering the old truth, which has been in oblivion for a long time, which goes beyond your regular showreel.

As a Filmmaker you have to constantly read and keep yourself updated about all the latest events taking place in the world. True education starts once you get out of the institute and start living with people, sharing the same passion for filmmaking. Research is involved with every Film and a Filmmaker is expected to be well versed with the subject his Film is based upon and then present it to the audience. Commenting more on this, he said, “Education does not end here, if you don’t read, don’t write constantly or be alive and see around, you would not be able to make good films”.

He acknowledged that direction is about your own sensibilities; it’s more about your feelings. The basic idea should be yours, the day you confirm to someone else’s sensibility you will fail and even if you succeed with that, you might not last very long. Being a Film Director changes you lot as a person from within. It’s vital to invest your emotions and feelings in your Films.

Another thing about Filmmaking is to collate as much experience as you can; it is crucial to have hands on experience to gain eloquence and be better Filmmakers with each Film. Speaking further on this, he added, “There are no set rules to be a Filmmaker, you learn by being there…just make films”. Sometimes even experience acts as your biggest rival. The more the experience, the tougher it gets, your upcoming or current work will always be judged by your previous work. The more successful you get, you tend to invariably repeat yourself thinking it will work but it does not. Being a Filmmaker is not just about telling story, it’s beyond that”

Mr. Suri further said that direction is not about technical skills alone, it’s about your feelings. Mere short taking is not the basis of a good Director. A Director should know to pen down his views. His suggestion to the students was to write for an hour about anything that comes to their mind. Talking on this, he said, “Best Directors are Writers. When you pen something down it’s inertia in the beginning but eventually you would enjoy it. You are halfway through to be a good Director”

In his parting lines to the students, he said, “Failure is inevitable but what counts is how quickly you get up and figure out what went wrong and start working on it. Don’t get intimidated by anyone, remember there is no such thing as a wrong shot”.

For more information contact:

Tel. no.: +91-22-28257009/+91-22-28257008

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guest lecture by prominent Cinematographer and Director, Mr. Ashok Mehta at Digital Academy – The Film School.

Ashok Mehta, one of India’s most respected cinematographers, ran away from home and school in Delhi, in the 70s to pursue his dream of becoming an Actor. However, on arriving, he realized that life here was a struggle. He saw no point in returning home empty handed. So he started off as a canteen boy, worked as a hawker, a light man, a camera attendant, before he finally became a cameraman. With "36 Chowrangee Lane" he had his first tryst with recognition as a Cinematographer. No formal training groomed this National Award winning Cinematographer, who also turned Director with the film "Moksh", starring Arjun Rampal, Manisha Koirala. He has several hit Films to his credit like” The Bandit Queen”, “ Ram Lakhan”, “Saudagar”, “Chalte Chalte”, “No Entry”, “Waqt: Race Against Time” amongst few

Mr. Mehta began the lecture by focusing on the qualities required to be an Actor. If story is the soul of the film, the Actors make it evident by adding verve to it. Actors are suppose to live the characters they play, which means they have to be instinctive with the mannerisms, characteristic traits and the temperaments of the role played by them. Another important factor for an Actor is to have a good memory in order to deliver dialogues with ease. He suggested that students read at least one page everyday and try to register the content of the page in their mind, which in turn will improve their memory.
An Actor is expected to understand the role precisely and play it with utmost clarity and consistency. Techniques can be learnt but the job of an Actor is to be natural, he/she should design a patter in the mind and act accordingly in order to concentrate on the frame. Above all Filmmaking is work of creation, which requires lot of commitment and conviction to reach greater heights and be accepted in the industry.
He further informed the students to not just remain mere technicians but to become creators and explore various forms of art to become a creative person. That can be done only when one learns the skill to transform technique into art, which has a longer shelf life and remains for years to come inspiring generations all together. Talking further on this, he said, “Technique should not overpower the content otherwise it becomes gimmick, it should remain and follow the subject. Be clear about what you need, how are you going to design and light up the event, be precise about converting techniques into art, that is a must”.
Talking about inspiration he said that being inspired is essential for any creative person, it enhances the core of an artist further helping him/her deliver the best. Inspiration comes from anything one should have the ability to pick up from any source. Even your six senses teach and inspire you. We all have an aptitude to learn and grow, even Mother Nature teaches you a lot of things, just be open to the elements. Inspiration does not mean imitating anyone, it means getting encouraged to do something better.

Mr. Mehta further stated that innovation is the most essential criteria required to be in a creative field. It is mandatory to be different from your previous work, and most importantly work for yourself to prove yourself and not others. Design yourself in such a way that your previous work acts as a challenge for you to excel in your next venture.
He further mentioned that knowledge is the key to any door of success. Adding to this, he said, “Keep reading and be updated about everything, there are so many books you can learn and improvise yourself from…get inspired from everyone and do not be egoistic”. Knowledge acquired is always less.

If a Director is aware about other aspects of Filmmaking it becomes easier for him/her to contribute and communicate better, since you cannot understand other’s mind communication helps to bridge that gap. A Director is expected to have the capacity to at least understand the jargons of other department of Filmmaking to explain better to his team members.

Any creative genius should create an impression through his/her work, put your soul in your work for it to last. People who have contributed to the world of art are still respected, admired and cherished. It all depends on how well you communicate your views to the audience.

On asked about how important Lighting is he said that, using camera is a technique but how to change the mood and look of a particular scene depends on how well you illuminate it. It is critical to understand framing and composition and lighting will differ from scene to scene.

In his parting lines he advised the students to work hard and be open for learning from various sources. Elaborating on this, he said, “Everyone has a journey in life even blessed people have to work for it. Use your wisdom and decide whose experience and wisdom you should take and learn from”.

For more information contact:
Tel. no.: +91-22-28257009/+91-22-28257008

Monday, December 28, 2009

Guest Lecture by Filmmaker, Mr. Mahesh Nair at Digital Academy- The Film School.

Mahesh Nair is a Writer and Director; he has an excellent record as a documentary Filmmaker and journalist prior to working on feature films. His documentary on Mumbai’s Dabbawalas, which he wrote and directed for BBC World TV, has been internationally acclaimed and is often used as a case study by Indian and International Management students. He had the opportunity to work with one of India’s leading Filmmaker, Mr. Ram Gopal Varma for many years. He was Varma’s Chief Assistant Director and was also the co-writer of Ek. His upcoming film“Accident on Hill Road” is due to be released shortly.

Mr Nair commencing his talk said that the most important factor to be a Filmmaker is the Passion to make films, the burning desire to reach the dreams come what may. It is exactly what drives an individual to a point where the entire focus is shifted to just one goal in life, which in turn can change your destiny. Elaborating on this, he said, “ Everyday when you wake up and think of being a filmmaker and it remains in your mind, that even today, even tomorrow, whenever you wake up and you are not bored, the thought of being a filmmaker excites you and if you are able to maintain it for day in day out….. that is called passion, passion for films and being a filmmaker”. He stated that, as a professional you must be very passionate about your work, and must be sure of your goals in life. Nobody can assure you, but yourself. If you think you have it in you, just absorb it and embrace it so tight that it remains and stick to you as your second skin. Citing his mentor’s example he said that. Mr. Ram Gopal Varma sleeps, drinks and eats Films, for him there is no life beyond Films.

He advised the students to learn the craft and chisel their skills and talents to be finer craftsmen. He said that, craft is something that you learn and acquire through sheer hard work and perseverance. If Filmmaking is your goal, you can learn the craft by watching various genres of films and as students you need to be zealous enough to watch films and try to understand what part of it excites you and bring out the reactions in you. As filmmakers you need to learn to get the effect for films from within. His suggestion to students was to assist directors and filmmakers to learn the craft and be experts in the trade after finishing Film School.

If you are a writer, go about it discover your true calling and write. This also applies to the other facets of your profession, if filmmaking excites you and gives you creative satisfaction, just shoot. Exploring different avenues of your abilities and frequently working on it is an added advantage in possessing your skills. The reaction you get from people helps in building a strong foundation as a filmmaker, it makes you aware of your own pitfalls.

As a filmmaker one should know the process right from the scratch, which involves pre and postproduction work. The entire canvas is based upon strings of various palettes coming together to form a spectacular sight for the world to see. In order to enjoy this view, every feature of filmmaking needs to be finely observed and acted upon with the final outcome in mind, which can be only done if one learns the trade of managing people and conveying exactly what you want to do. If that goal is not achieved then it becomes very difficult to be a filmmaker. If you want to be a filmmaker you need to learn to manage your team. Rapport building is the most essential thing one must learn in this trade and always work with people who are far superior to you, as it helps raising the quality of the films. The process of filmmaking is all about managing people, managing egos and matching your wavelength with like-minded people.

As a filmmaker there has to be something unique about your own film, there should be a part of you in it, personal branding is necessary to be noticed. He further stated that in order to understand your unique quality, you need to get opinions from people who are closest to you as every individual has a different style and that style reflects in your film. He commented on the uniqueness of the styles by saying, “The more unique it is, the more unique your voice is, the more easily it will be heard”.

Rejection is part and parcel of every profession and one must be prepared to accept it and take it with a pinch of salt. It is important to know how to cope up with rejection and not be bogged down by it. Since people have varied opinions about films, you cannot argue on that, it’s all about perception; therefore a vast difference of views would be there. These reactions and opinions help you become a better filmmaker learn to accept rejection and never give up on your passion.

He further started showcasing the clips of his new movie, based on a true story. The reason to display his work was to give an insight to the students about his realistic approach towards making films. He was passionate about making realistic films but was always rejected, but his passion for making films stood strong besides him and kept him going.

He was highly impressed with the infrastructure of Digital Academy - The Film School and stated that. “The academy is well equipped, offering students the opportunity to learn the craft of filmmaking. They just need to learn and face the world to know the reality of filmmaking”. He also mentioned that students were pretty interactive and it’s nice to meet the students and youngsters to get a perspective of life from them.