Ashwani Singh started Shaan-e-awadh International Film Festival in Lucknow to watch those films which he normaly can’t see in a Tier 2 city. Read on to know more about him and the challenges he faces in organizing a film festival in a non metro city.
Tell us about your life journey in brief?
It is kind of difficult for me to explain my journey in words, but I’ll try. So let’s begin with my studies, I completed my graduation in commerce from Lucknow University in 2006, after that I moved to Mumbai for the diploma course in Editing at MAAC, Andheri; as I wanted to be in the direction field. But I really don’t know why I chose editing, maybe because I’ve done something in editing earlier in Lucknow while doing journalism course, where we get to know a very basic of adobe premier (an editing software), so it attracted me towards the process of editing. Meanwhile I was doing the editing course in MAAC, sometimes I felt I was stuck there, I should go back to my hometown and do some routine job, but then that was my thought process for that moment only, and after spending so many weeks I got the chance to assist in television for ‘Doordarshan’ in a Punjabi daily soap with my first teacher Vinay Patel (a senior editor films/ TV) in the industry and I assisted him almost for a year on that show, and the producer of that show “Siddhartha Nagar” is truly a gem, he introduced me to this industry and gave me the first chance without any question and doubt in his mind and he also pushed me to do editing also, because I used to sit behind my editor and see how he cuts and how he brings the best from the rushes. After doing this, my next target was films, which I got in very casual way without doing any hard-ship, as I always wanted to assist Srikar Prasad (a well known film editor) but never got a chance to be in contact with him. My first feature film where I was totally unaware who was the editor and who was director, on a day one of my good friend, Aneesh bhai (actor, editor) told me about an editor who did so many big films, and took me to the studio and told me what I’ve to do and also introduced me to the editor of that film. I met them and then I realised that… yes, now I am on a place of my choice. I said yes and started working on the film named Chal Chalein, directed by Ujjwal Singh, and edited by Aseem Sinha (well known film editor). With this film I made my debut in film editing and got my first credit or say first place in this industry as an Assistant Editor and after that this journey continued as an assistant, then it went on with first assistant, on location editor and associate editor and so on. I have worked with many good directors i.e. Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Shashant Shah, Debaloy Sey, I also got a chance to do work on behind the scenes for feature film “Fatso”& “Ishqiya”. I was very much satisfied with my job but not by the pay or salary I used to get, so that’s the reason I started working as an editor on some outside commercial ad-films, documentary, tele-films, TV shows, etc. And, in between when I was enjoying this film journey, I started my dream venture “Shaan-e-awadh International Film Festival” in 2011 under Awadh Art Society, and after the successful completion of the fest in 2011 we continued this and marked it into the calendar to do this on every alternative year like 2011, 2013 and now 2015, dates are already declared for 2015 i.e, 22-25, October.I had also made one short film “Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan” in 2007 and a short film “About A Boy” in 2009 as a director. Both films were critically acclaimed and got appreciated in various film festivals. And, in my filmy career I did films Chal Chalein, Chalo Dilli, Mohalla Assi, Prem Mayee, Amma Ki Boli, Machhli Jal Ki Rani Hai, Bajatey Raho, Balwindar Singh… Famous Ho Gaya and my last feature film which I did is “Beyond the Known World” directed by Pan Nalin.
What prompted you to start a film festival?
As I always wanted to do something good and big for my home town, for my city, for my friends, for the upcoming generation, and as a film lover I love to watch films, especially short films and for that I always used to find difficulties to see such films because you can’t find these kinds in theatres and you don’t have such places where you can get all this stuff, but yeah it is easy to find this in Metro Cities but in other cities like Lucknow, Kanpur etc. it’s so tough So that’s reason which provoked me to take an initiative for a short film festival in Lucknow.
What is the selection procedure you follow?
We invite all film-makers via our festival data/ friends and social media, and select some 40-45 best films from overall submission with the help of selection panel and then we sent these films to our festival jury for the ranking and select the best in categories like Best Film, Best Director and so on.
Tell us about your team, if you have any?
If we talk about the Team, then I am not sure who is in and who is out, because till now I’ve not got or met any person who is keen to do this or someone who is equally mad like me. Maybe money could be a reason as we are not funded by any big companies and all. I am doing this festival by my own savings, for my dream and madness.
What is your dream/ vision?
My dream is to establish Shaan-e-awadh International Film Festival and make it as big as I can, and last but not the least to direct a feature film of my own story with my dream team.
What difficulties you face in organizing a film festival?
There are so many difficulties in organizing a film festival and when you’ve no team and funding, nobody will support you to do this kind of initiative in small cities. It is very easy to do such festivals metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata but in Lucknow, it is very tough as per my experience. Mukesh Chaudhary is the only person who came up to me so far and supported my dream to make it happen in real.
How can we improve filmmaking ecosystem in India?
We have to help each other and support young film-makers and provide them platform (if we can) to improve the filmmaking ecosystem in India.
Any fun or memorable incident you remember?
18th November 2011 is a very memorable date, it was a time when a dream was fulfilled and Shaan-e-awadh International Film Festival inaugurated and those 3days (18-19-20) is still fresh in my memory and sharing the stage with one of my best author Uday Prakash Ji, senior film journalist Ajay Brahmatmaj Ji and my teacher/mentor Aseem Sinha was the best experience I can ever have in my life.
What advice you’d like to give to someone who is interested or a newbie in filmmaking?
Watch films and they will teach you everything. Make films different types of films of your interest. Don’t think about good or bad but make it with honesty and involve your friends in it which will benefit you later in your filmy career.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Believe in yourself, with honesty you can do anything. Enjoy your work and do your best and success will follow you
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