Meet the Star Behind Camera- Film Maker Tannishtha Sarkar
This time we are having with us one of most talented short film maker of India. It will be wrong to present her as just a film maker. She is also an amazing singer, a brilliant music composer and also an excellent writer. She is playing both her professional and family role with absolute elegance. She is none other than very talented and gorgeous Tannishtha Sarkar.
1) Welcome to Indicafe24.com Platform. We are happy to have you with us. Tannishtha before we move forward will request you to give a brief about you and your background.
Hi, its my pleasure to be here. Its kind of complicated to give a brief of myself, as I consist of contrasting traits and varied backgrounds! I am an Independent Film maker, writer and music composer. Before my films, I was into communications management in corporate sector. I did my bachelors in Electronics from University of Kolkata and MBA from NMIMS, Mumbai. I have been learning music since very early childhood. I have achieved a number of prestigious awards and recognition on national level in vocal music. Beside these, I have been into writing and photography for last 10 years as a freelancer. Now you see, why its so complicated to brief myself? 🙂
2) You are into short film making and documentary films. so what type of stories you generally prefer to bring in your films and who are your targeted audience?
I do not prefer to put a boundary to my subjects. It can be anything, even as small as showing a struggle of catching a public transport in rush hours, or can even be as big as showing a Dinosaurs invasion. As long as it makes sense and touches the right chord, I set myself free when it comes to content. Short films and documentaries do not yet get theatre releases. Generally, its viewership used to dependent on Film festivals. But thanks to Youtube, its now open for mass. One of my short film even got screened on National Television recently. My films are targeted to all those who ‘think’ 🙂
3) What was your first film? say something about your experience with your first film?
My first film is fakebook, made in 2013 on teenage identity crisis and the impact of social media. It was chosen as one of the top four scripts of our batch, hence was funded by the institute. The experience was very overwhelming and contend, as it was the first time I felt, finally, I was doing something I am destined for.
Even though, there were a whole bunch of challenges as there was very limited resources. Hence, Actors, technicians, equipments, locations etc all had to be ‘Jugar’ed instead of hiring. People joined hands selflessly to come up with this film. The films did well and got screened in various festivals across India in addition to securing 2 prestigious awards of Best Music Composer and Best Debutant Director runner up award at LSIFF, Bhopal.
4) We came to know that you are a very good singer. So which form of music you love and generally sing? Do you apply your musical voice in any film of yours?
I have learnt Hindustani Classical Music since very early childhood, and later on diversified to contemporary music. As in my films, even in music I do not like to restrict myself to a specific genre. I sing anything that touches my heart, It can be a Sufi, a folk, a ghazal, or even a rock for that matter! Amongst the accolades of my singing, gold medal in vocal music at Nehru Yuva Kendra, Finalist at Channel V Popstar 2, 1st Runner up at Radio Masti voice hunt, are to name a few.
I have composed-written and sang a song in my last film Maafinama…a road towards redemption. The song “Bezuban Ishq” was well received and people identify the film with the song now! Previous to that I have made a funk song for fakebook, called “Mujhme bhi hai woh baat”, sang by a Kolkata based band “Orchids”. The song brought me best music composer award and was quite popular too.
5) When and how you realized that there is a spark in you which can be utilized in short film making? Who is the one who encouraged you to enter this world?
I was more than occupied juggling my corporate life and personal life with a baby when I had to take a work break for my 2nd child. This break was was quite fulfilling from motherhood perspective but rather frustrating career wise. But often the blessings of Almighty come in the disguise of challenges. So was this. It is during this pause of career I realized the under-utilization of my potentials and passions in the corporates. I heard an inner call indeed to put together all that I enjoy doing, and the summation turned out to be film making. Then, there was no looking back. Such is the power of a pause in our lives!
6) The world of films is very competitive, how you managed to make space for your talent? Is there any godfather behind your career growth?
As I mentioned, I never tried to make a point or place in the film industry. I literally followed my heart without any of expectations and even accepted the risk of failing miserably when I started. It was quite a drastic and unconventional decision for a mother of 2 toddlers.
All I wanted, is to tell stories in my way. It clicked, and it went on with the blessings of my parents, in-laws and of course the co-operation of my husband, without whom I could not even started this adventurous journey.
No God father. As the name says ‘Independent Film maker’, so it is, truly independent, fortunately or unfortunately 😉 I believe, if you are good at what you do and believe in your art, you would get you going, no matter what!
7) The characters are backbones of any films success. How you make the selection of the actors or better to say what you try to find in a actor to make them fit into the character of your films?
That’s indeed a crucial part and I am quite particular when it comes to casting. Even though Indie films do not have much budget for celebrity actors, but here the question is more of quality acting and the ability to adapt to the character more than any external feature or past achievements. People from acting schools and theater groups often come handy suiting most of the criteria in addition to a pool of passion that any film maker would love to bank upon.
8) Tell us about your much acclaimed film Maafinama? What made you choose such a sensitive topic?
I have written Maafinama during my film school days, but never thought, I would finally make it, A, for its sensitive social message, I was not sure if its the right point to come up with it, B, of course resources that a plot like this required. Its based on a gang rape in a Muslim village where an innocent boy gets falsely convicted. Its about his endeavor to compensate the losses which he didn’t even cause and his change of perspective towards the victim.
My colleagues, and friends who read the story, are the people who convinced, its a story that needs to be told, especially on a time when rape has become a regular household word which has is now so common that it does not even make a headline in news papers. Everybody joined hand for the cause of making my script a film. And it has really paid off.
The film received “Best Director” award at NACT Bangalore 2014, selected as the opening film at the prestigious Darpan International Film Festival Singapore, Official selection at Kala Ghoda Film Festival Mumbai, got a special screening at National University Singapore for its South Asian Studies department, and recently got telecasted on NDTV Prime. Honestly, all these are way beyond than our expectations when we were struggling for locations, props or equipments!
9) Which project you are presently working?
I am currently working on a long documentary based in Mumbai on Human Trafficking. We are on pre production phase. Its exciting as well as challenging, for a woman film maker to be able to work on a subject of this dimension. I can not help all those betrayed, tortured & battered woman personally who are trafficked. But it brings a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when I see myself bringing out their stories to the world to change their tomorrows may be…
10) If you ask you to recall one WOW moment in your career what will it be?
A ‘Wow’ moment would perhaps be the day I finished shooting my first film. Its the day I realized internally, that whatever my instincts have been provoking and disturbing me for was not at all just a new craze or a phase. Its what I am made for. I think more than any award or honors I received, the inner call with this little piece of self recognition was the ‘Wow’ thing that changed my world!
11) How it feels when your work gets appreciations from critics and audiences?
As I mentioned, when I write or shoot, I do not much focus on audience reactions, I live on that moment and do my best to justify the subject and the characters. When it clicks well, it definitely feels nice. When people can relate to the film, what else the maker could ask for!
12) What are your other passions in life?
Apart from Music and film making, I and my husband are avid travelers, I love clicking whatever manages to catch my attention, be it a stray dog or my little daughter’s frowns, or a majestic snow cladded pick.
13) How you manage your work and family together both in Singapore and India?
Its challenging, really. And I am still working out to make it smoother. Thanks to my angels, i.e, my super-friends in Singapore and my hubby for making me able to sustain.
14) Where you see yourself 5 years down the line?
Well, I see myself as much more of a sane, calm and composed being who forgets lesser than now (my forgetfulness is the biggest concern I have with myself!). And yes, by that time I should be able to put more time into work as my kids would be more independent, hence, the idea of a full length film at that point does not sound that impossible 😉
15) Is there any chance to see your work in Bollywood or even in Bengali Cinema?
Why not if its written!
Some stills from Maafinaama
16) Who are the idols for you in film industry?
I am inspired by almost everyone I meet in the path of life. But if you want me to actually name a very few, they would be Maniratnam, Vishal Bharadwaj, Rituporno Ghosh, AR Rahman, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hooper, Garry Marshall etc.
17) Any piece of ‘Gyan’ to our readers?
Life is too short, do not waste it worrying of others, they already have their own battles to fight…have courage to chase your inner call instead, cause nobody knows you better than yourself.