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Winning a National Award : Akanksha Tewari

By PN Team Posted on May, 10 2016

Akanksha Tewari (Photo)

Magic Happens When The Right People Come Together...


What made you come up with this idea? 

Amdavad Ma Famous was Hardik Mehta's (Director/Editor) idea. In fact I wouldn't call it an 'idea', it was more like pure instinct, and his desire to follow the subject (Zaid) he had met and who was very very intriguing to him. In that way, the story of the film actually came to us, instead of us going out there and searching for it. What we did, was find the subject, Zaid! It was in January 2014 that Hardik was doing a photo series on old Ahmedabad; he was particularly fascinated by the pols of the old city (heritage area). The Uttarayan week in old Ahemdabad is a delight, madness in the alleys, madness on the terraces, and a sky buzzing with colourful kites. That's where he spotted Zaid. He was this skinny short boy in his gang of boys, but his transformation into this leader of the pack when it came to chasing, catching and flying kites was fascinating. We made friends with him and decided to follow him, see what it is like to be Zaid, running on the streets, scaling terraces, risking life and limb with single minded focus on his beloved kites! Hardik roped in his friend and cinematographer Piyush Puty to film this journey. We had no idea where it would take us, but we just had a good feeling about it. And most importantly, we were thoroughly enjoying Zaid's world and were glad he let us be privy to it! We returned back to Mumbai with all that great footage but we still didn't have a story so to speak. Having experienced it first hand, we knew that this festival, the people it brings together and the person it makes out of them, was perhaps one of India's best kept secrets. We decided to look for funding and Hardik began editing a teaser to set up the website. But once we saw the teaser, we knew we couldn't wait for funds to come in, we decided to put in our own and get going with the project! So in January 2015, Hardik, Piyush returned to Ahmedabad, this time with a second cinematographer – Harshbir Singh, and shot Zaid's favourite days of the year. This time, while shooting, is when the story walked into our frame, literally. Mushtaq, the new security guard of the building that Zaid used to fly kites on, walked in shooed away the boys, including Zaid, from the terrace. We knew we had our film!

How do you feel getting the National Award?

Ecstatic and deeply humbled! This is our first documentary production and its received so much love everywhere that its screened, Budapest-Belgrade-Toronto-Qatar-Chile-Los Angeles-Taos-Palm SpringsNewYork-Moldova-Istanbul-Cape Town-Dublin-Estonia-Italy-Tel Aviv-Mumbai, and irrespective of language and culture, it's been able to find a connect. But a win at the National Awards, the Swarna Kamal from the President as the Best Non-Feature Film – it's an honour we hadn't imagined and certainly not set out hoping for! It's reinstated our faith in doing things from the heart and never shying away from hard work, things have a way of working out!

What were the initial challenges while launching this movie?

Instead of challenges I'd like to call them 'forces' that made us believe more and more in our film, and pushed us to move ahead! It was the coming together of this incredible team, people who came on board one by one. It started with Piyush Puty, the cinematographer and a dear friend. His fantastic craft, and his enthusiasm and willingness to shoot in any and all circumstances, kept us going, and gave us the most breath-taking visuals in the film. He believed in the film and us through and through. Once we had the first cut of the film ready, we shared it with people for response. We still had music and sound design to work on. That's when another champion of the film came on board, Arya A Menon, a mumbai based independent producer. She loved the film and came on board as the Co-Producer helping us post produce the film! The usual challenges of working with children were actually easy to handle. Hardik Mehta (Director/Editor) is incredible with children and at a level I thought he saw Zaid mirroring his passion, Zaid was as passionate about kites as Hardik is about the process of film making. With this film, I've seen the magic that the coming together of right people creates, and I'm glad and grateful for that! On a personal note, I've realised I derive great satisfaction in not just telling my own stories but enabling and working with this passionate filmmaker tell his stories.

What do you plan to do next ?

Right now all our efforts are aligned in getting the film to reach as varied and wider an audience as possible. We are screening in Kerela, London, California, South Africa, Amsterdam and Italy in the coming months. We are also working to get the film out on an easily accessible digital platform. Then it can have a life of its own! We are working on two exciting docu-features themes right now, they are again subject/protagonist driven stories, but we're mixing our instincts with thorough research this time. Amdavad Ma Famous has changed our lives by making us travel with it to these wonderful film festivals. The people we've met, the films we've seen has opened up this world of genre and format breaking content. We are eager to explore the docu-drama zone in our future projects.


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