Today, I am going to talk about the founder and managing director of Pahari Cinema and Silent Hills Studio – Ajay Saklani, who is leaving no stone unturned for the upliftment of Pahari cinema. Being a proud Himachalian, Saklani is promoting and showcasing beauty of Pahari culture through his movies.
Here are a few questions which I asked him during our telephonic conversation:
- What inspires you to become a film director?
Well the story goes back to my childhood days when I was 11 years old and I saw the Television for the first time in my life. I lived in a small village called Sihan in district Mandi. My chacha jib rough the first TV set in our village and I was very fascinated to see the people inside a box. That created curiosity in me to know more about the world of television.
Later on when I moved out of my village after completing my schooling, I got a chance to see the outside world. The journey begun from there and I kept on learning about the people, society, cultures and many other things. During my college days in Khalsa College, Jalandhar, I got the chance to do theater and my journey started from there. I kept on reading about film-making. I moved to Delhi during my college days and started working there with a film production house. And the learning process about film-making started from there.
- What is the most important advice you would like to give to young filmmakers in Himachal?
I’m also a young filmmaker and old enough to advice others. But yes I can share a few points, which I learned during my journey of 11-12 years in filmmaking and television industry. I’d say no film school can teach you how to make films. They can teach you the technique and aesthetics but it’s you who can tell yourself how to make films. Do not jump to a subject where you don’t belong. Start with the subject you know very well. That could be an even from your past life, current life or your dream. But the subject should be more close to you. But before you start making films, try to assist someone. You can learn a lot as an assistant that being a film school student or just by reading books.
- Name a few films that inspired or influenced you and why?
I always loved Satyajit Ray and RitwikGhatak’s cinema. PatherPanchali and the other two films of ApuTrilogoy were the fantastic films to learn from. RitwikGhatak’sMegha Dhaka Tara and Nagrik were among those films left me speechless, The italin film ‘The Bicycle Theves’ by De Sica has always been an inspiration to filmmakers around the world and so for me. Luis Bunuel’s new wave cinema from france makes us reimagine our social structure. And of course ShyamBenegal, MrinalSen, Ketan Mehta, GovindNihalani, ShyamBenegal, AmitDutta, Manish Jha, AshimAhluwalia, AnuragKashyap, Anand Gandhi and many other filmmakars have made ou proud from their films.
- Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture?
Yes off course. A filmmaker does not only make films but develops a culture for the generations to come. Indian Cinema have contributed a lot for the development of the culture and cross-culture in India. Being a filmmaker from Himachal I see it my responsibility to take forward the culture and languages of Pahari region. I have already stepped into that by making my first Pahari Feature Film Saanjh, which will be completed soon. Creating a cinema industry in Pahari states is my vision and I’m working for that. Not only me, there are many other filmmakers who are working for the Pahari Cinema today.
- What creativity means to you?
Well creativity have several meanings as per our own perspective. I believe telling your stories truly and in a meaningful manner is creativity for me.
- Are you on social media and do you use it in your work? Why or why not?
Yes I do use social media a lot. Not only use but I have also started a social networking website for Pahari people known as pahariroots. There was a time when many people were connected through pahariroots but due to some issue we lost all the user data. Now we have re launched the website and people are using it. Social media is a part of our life today. But it depends upon us how we utilize it. If we focus on our work and use the social media according to that, it provides us a lot.
- What challenges are you facing on your current project?
The biggest challenge is the finance. No films have been released in Pahari (Himachali) language till today so finding a financer for such film is very difficult. Also making people understand a project like saanjh is a difficult task. The first question people ask is ‘Who is the hero and heroine?’. When I say we have three people in lead they don’t understand. For them if it’s not a love story, it’s not a film. Challenges are many but we have to overcome them. Will discuss the other challenges once we complete the film.