Location: Brooklyn, NY
Hometown: Hartford, CT
Occupation: Freelance Director
Why am I here?
I am here to tell fantastic stories that move and inspire people across the world... stories of who we are and who we can become.
A quick tour of my life
As a first generation Indian American, I grew up straddling traditions, languages, and cultures. My mother raised us as a single-parent, and I learned quickly about hard work, determination, and tenacity. When I was nineteen, I visited a Buddhist monastery in South India, and knew there were experiences that I could not describe in words. I fell madly in love with visual images and began to see the world in a new way. After college, a year later, I quit my job, charged a video camera, and took off across the Caribbean and West Africa to make a documentary. For years, I slaved at every post-production house in New York City and would do ANYTHING to learn my craft. In ten years of living between the NYC indie film industry and Bollywood, I have filmed a Bengal tiger in the wild, interviewed His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, and made hip hop videos in the depths of Brooklyn. There is nowhere I wouldn't go, no mountain I wouldn't climb, in pursuit of a compelling story.
Describe yourself in one sentence...
I am a tech-head, a tree-hugger, a humanist.
Your theme song?
Mos Def's "Umi Says" from the album Black on Both Sides. It starts, "Umi says shine your light on the world, shine your light for the world can see..."
First movie you ever saw?
Seeing the film, GHANDI, was the first memory I have of going to the cinema with my entire family. I was 7 and I fell asleep during the intermission of the three hour epic, but I have never forgotten the opening scene...
Favorite line from a movie?
"May the force be with you."
What made you want to be a filmmaker?
Why does anyone fall in love? Isn't it always a little irrational? My love for filmmaking was just that - impulsive, passionate, all-encompassing and without reason. But my love for visual storytelling also became integrated with my love for human rights. I always considered myself a humanist & was always inspired by stories of ordinary people who overcome seemingly insurmountable hardships. These are the stories I like to tell... Filmmaking is not just my profession. It's my calling.
When you make a film what do you want the audience to leave with?
I want audiences to FEEL something, even if it's uncomfortable. I think this always brings us closer to our own humanity.
When I'm behind the camera...
I feel the most at home. There is nothing I love more than a camera in my hands and wind in my hair.
What do you think it will be like working with other Directors?
It is an honor to be in a pool with some of the most talented emerging directors in the world. I am really excited - I think it's gonna be like boot camp. And I LOVE boot camp.
Movie that best encapsulates who you are?
Whalerider - a young woman whose destiny is to be king.
While On The Lot you have a week to make a film every week. What's the biggest challenge?
Breathing deeply & staying centered amidst crazy production schedules and high tension
When you get the power, how will you use it?
I think all of us already have the power. It's just that my moment has come to share powerful stories with the world, and I will use this to inspire and move people...
What's more important talent or ego?
Are you crazy? TALENT
Re: Shalini Kantayya
I hope some of the women do very well in this competition. Heck, I hope one of them wins Second, next to Zach. :poke
I'm not sure yet if she is the strongest of the women though. I have to see more.
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