Photos: Ashraf Uddin Apu
It is not uncommon to come across parents that expect the next generation to follow a more prevalent career path for greater financial stability and social status. Luckily, for the director of the award winning film Udhao, this wasn’t the case. Udhao is a drama thriller which follows a story of men who run away from their family responsibilities and a rickshaw pedalling bounty hunter Babu who is out there to get them back and bring them to justice.
A graduate from the prestigious Tisch School of Art at New York University, Amit reminisces how it all started. In school, Amit loved narrating short cartoon stories he watched and also attended a curriculum comprising of creative writing and story narration classes which were later emphasised more towards the cognitive learning structure. “We had creative writing and storytelling classes where we had to narrate stories without having restrictions in terms of spelling or grammar. We could get our thoughts out and that helped me get the creative juices flowing.”
Since the release and screening of Udhao, Amit has come a long way and acquired recognition both internationally and locally. The film premiered internationally first before it was released in local theatres. “During the Goteborg International Film Festival, Scandinavia’s largest film festival, I was nervous since this was the first time ever I was screening my movie to an audience who were not friends or family,” Amit confesses. Despite the film having a diverse plot and a rather unfamiliar list of casting, Udhao got rave reviews which led it to win a number of international awards.
Amit discusses a familiar crisis that is not anonymous amongst most writers – writer’s block. “Everyone goes through writer’s block to some extent, I am lucky in that sense that during my university years, one of my focus was dramatic writing where we were just drilled into output creative writing and writer’s block is obviously something we all deal with.”When faced with such crisis, Amit prefers to step back from the script for a few days in order to recharge before coming back to it. “You should set a limit on how many pages you should write for the day during times like this. Forcing yourself to something that involves creativity would never bring out the necessary quality that is sought after.”
With a complicated script like Udhao which included several flashbacks and flash-forwards, one can only wonder how it feels being in the filmmaker’s shoes. “It was surprising how all the process came together towards the end. In the middle, we faced complications in terms of funding and had to take break for about fourmonths before starting again. When I see the list of credits at the end of the film, it still surprises me to realise how many people collaborated for this movie. If it wasn’t for this single idea then all these people wouldn’t be together.”
Amit firmly believes there should be diversity among filmmakers with varied ideas and visions of their own in order to sustain the industry and the requirements of the mass audience. “The audience these days have developed a refined taste. They know what they want to see and are keen for new stuff. They are plausibly getting the quantity but what they are lacking is the quality options.”
However, on the bright side there are people who are working to improve this scenario and bring diversity to the diluted entertainment scene, especially of the local television channels. “I would like to mention the local channel GTV’s name here since they have been trying to promote diversity in terms of their content. A sci-fi but simplified themed telefilm will be going on air for GTV soon. And why not since the audience is definitely more mature now,” says an ecstatic Amit. Other forthcoming ventures include an animation project which is still at its development stage and possibly a second feature film addressing the contemporary concerning issues of society. With that, we leave the budding director with his big plans.
Awards & Accolades
Post-Production Grant- Goteborg International Film Festival, Sweden
Post-Production Grant- PIFVA, USA
Best Feature Award- Portugal Underground Film Festival, Portugal
Best Cinematography Feature Award- Action on Film Int’l Film Festival
Best Narrative Feature Award- Logan Film Festival, USA
Best in Fest Award- Buttered Corn Film Festival, USA
Rising Star Award- Canada International Film Festival
Honorable Mention- LA New Wave Film Festival