Has London-born mechanical engineer turned film-maker Shubhra Vandit found his life’s calling in cinema? It’s entirely possible it’s also in the genes, after all, his father Kumar Vandit is an award winning ad film maker .
Vandit is motivated by people whose goals are social welfare but ﬁnd it tough to get support since their work isn’t commercial.”This spurred me to use my skills to help them by making films on social issues. Being aware of the problems prevailing in our society and how people ﬁnd the means to overcome them, changes the way one lives. For example, after making ‘Street Talk’, a ﬁlm about a homeless person in Barcelona who teaches Spanish for a living, I made it a point to have a conversation with any homeless person I came across, after the principal character said, ‘we are invisible’. “
In other words, society looks down on them and completely ignores them. “Street Talk” was screened at the MAMI FilmFest last year.
Vandit was in Barcelona during the Catalan referendum movement in 2017. One of his films, ‘El Padre’ (The Father) is inspired by the movement and deals with “ideas of independence and taking charge of yourself. “
His film L’estoc won the best film awards at the Paris Play Film Festival and was screened at the Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival amongst other festivals. Another film, Las Ventanas was screened in the Cinema Club Competition, Barcelona.
“The subjects of these films have struggled with issues in their lives and I related with their struggle. Hence I wanted to spread their stories.”
How did he negotiate sunny Spain where he picked up his master’s in film direction? “I didn’t speak a word of Spanish, But I put myself up to that challenge.Amazing things happen when you give life a chance and surrender to the process…” Now he speaks Spanish fluently and loves paella which “used to be comfort food since it came the closest to Indian biryani.”
Vandit’s next ﬁlm deals with water pollution and conservation. He is also working on an international feature ﬁlm based on the journey of a orphan girl child who is adopted by a foreign couple. Asked why India is so poorly represented at the Oscars, he says
“The West, especially the USA, is far ahead of India in the technical process of making films. Often finances are constraints, also Indian films are mostly tailored for home audiences. Often our films are directed solely at achieving box office returns and the idea of making an authentic film isn’t entertained. Films which contain pitch perfect authenticity don’t get promoted, or get a reasonably sufficient theatrical release, let alone being sent to the Oscars.”
But he is gung ho about the Cannes Film fest which he attended last year. “It was like magic! The opportunity to meet film professionals from all over the world, the sharing of ideas, people talking about their individual approaches and processes, and the way they deal with challenges – it was a time for immense learning. Moreover, it provided the perfect environment for me to meet possible future collaborators. And of course, the stories you come back with! Martin Scorsese gave a masterclass. I consider him my guru; his philosophy about films and filmmaking have inspired me tremendously.”
Soon, he will be off to the States. “I’m going to keep traveling and making films.” All the very best, Vandit.