Kishan makes movies under a production house Aapno Productions. The flagship product is an online video series – ‘Ram Ram Udaipur’ which is a entertaining documentary of local heroes. He meets local heroes who are doing good work in their own domain. This time we did a role reversal exercise and tried to tell his story. Here is excerpt of the conversation:
Tell us about your initial life journey in brief?
I was born in a village named Bhuwana. When I was 6 years old, there used to be only 2 TVs in the entire village. At that time, if you remember, Doordarshan used to show movies on Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm. Our School used to end at 4.30pm so mostly on Saturdays after recess, we had fever, stomach ache etc 😛 and we used to get cured by watching Amitabh’s films or Shishi Kapoor’s films. In fact we didn’t know how to pronounce Shashi and speak it as Shishi. After the movie we used to fight like heroes and villains. One mystery which was very complex for us was – Villain dies in almost every movie but then how come he reappears in another movie. For us that it was all real. So from early childhood only I was attracted towards movies.
So when did you decide to become a filmmaker?
The most preferred career choice in villages is agriculture/ farming but in our village, farms were all destroyed. So we had to look at alternate career choices like driving, labour etc. I explored that as well, did loading unloading of truck goods for which I used to get Rs 20 which was more than enough for me. Then in Class XI, I developed an inclination towards writing, we had a hindi literature teacher Geeta madam, who encouraged me to write.
So, I started with diary writing. Alongside I also wrote some stories and poems. At the same time fortunately I met with people who also encouraged me to opt for creative work and I got the exposure which I wanted. If I start taking names of these supportive people it would take more than half an hour. One of the exposures was to write articles for a magazine – ‘Yuva Hulchul’. I explored writing, different forms of theater, music, acting etc and I enjoyed all activities. So, I used to think what is that one thing where I could do all these activities. I then stumbled upon a film making event and that was an aha moment when I discovered that film making includes almost all the activities which I wanted to do like photography, acting, music, creativity, writing etc.
How did you start your journey as a filmmaker?
My first project as an independent filmmaker was to show bad impact due to pollution by a particular company in manufacturing company (don’t want to take the name). For obvious reasons, that movie was not supposed to be screened but it gave me exposure to all the facets of filmmaking- camera techniques, editing, cinematography, lighting etc. I chose my next project – land redistribution in my village for which I used to go and talk to people, interview them.
The challenge here was not from filmmaking perspective but to come across as a mature person as people used to think me as a kid plus there were some political motivation involved for some leaders. So, this project also tanked. The positive sign was that I realized that the camera is a very powerful tool and even big leaders with huge public support are also afraid of it. I then joined few groups as an assistant and was part of some good projects.
I think this was still a learning phase, when did you become an independent filmmaker?
Actually, after this learning phase, I had to join a job due to some family circumstances. I worked at a stock broking company and that was also a good learning experience. After working for some time, I joined Swaraj University as a Khoji and explored couple of other things and after that I was 100% assured that I want to become a filmmaker. I then conceptualize Ram Ram Udaipur which would be a platform for local heroes who are doing excellent work. Earlier the name of the show was – ‘Stars of city’.
Now big questions and challenges were – how to make this documentary watchable/ entertaining and also how will we monetize these videos and how I can arrange monthly survival for my team. We tried to figure out the solutions and the best approach we found was to start working and figure out the solutions in the journey itself. We cannot find solutions just by thinking or discussing. We then started working on first episode of Ram Ram Udaipur.
As we started, I happened to meet a guy who makes video series – ‘Why not Boston’. I got inspired from him and also realized that documentary can be entertaining and appeal people too. I worked on first episode and released it after working for almost a year.
What were the challenges you faced during the project?
For me, challenges were not from the filmmaking point of view but ideological. After we made the first episode of Ram Ram Udaipur, there were many suggestions coming my way – like shoot 10-12 episodes at one go and then release all or tie up with local cable wala or organization or NGO or find sponsors etc. Somehow I was not convinced as the whole idea of doing this show was not this but what should be the right approach was still not clear. With this lack of clarity, we made second episode also. Again suggestions started pouring on us. This time I decided – enough is enough; we first wanted to know people’s response and feedback and accordingly we will make the third without compromising on our ideology.
So, what’s next?
When I was working on Ram Ram Udaipur, I met and introduced with many good individuals from whom some became my mentors and some my colleagues. As our team grew, I felt responsible for them that I need to create a survival model for them as well as for me. As we have decided to do it full time professional basis. The learning and hobby phase was over. So, I started Aapno Productions and Ram Ram Udaipur team switched to this and we created packages for family, wedding, corporate, social etc. and generated revenue through this and now the whole team was satisfied and motivated. Also, we don’t position ourselves as photographers but as a professional service provider.
How these packages work?
We sign a contract with the client at least 3 month prior and then we involve their own people instead of hiring professional actors or models. We understand these people, observe them and become part of their lives and then we dramatize and customize the movie for that particular family or organization. We focus on making a rapport with them.
What is your dream?
My dream is to introduce collaborative filmmaking. The regional language movie maker should be encouraged and an ecosystem should be established for these kinds of people. Opportunities should be created for artists in their own native places in order to reduce talent migration.
What all difficulties a filmmaker faces?
I will not use the word difficulties. Let’s take an example of a football striker. He wants to score a goal where he has to beat opponents, goal keeper, coordinate with team members etc. Will you call all these difficulties? No, Right? It’s a part of the game. Similarly whatever challenges/ difficulties you think you are facing are actually part of the game and learnings.
What advice you want to give to aspiring filmmakers?
My advice is very simple that if you are passionate or mad for something, you will figure out a way. Don’t wait for others to give you a platform, if you are not getting a platform, create one.
Some of Kishan’s work:
We completely agree with him as all difficulties are surely part of the game and they should be treated at learning opportunities. We wish Aapno productioons lots of learning and success 🙂
What do you think about the thoughts expressed by Kishan?