Brahmanand Singh’s journey has been as exciting and eventful than the films he makes; filled with trials, experimentation, disappointment and at the same time hope, excitement, passion and eventual success. This National Award winning filmmaker believes in throwing himself “into the stimuli the world has to offer.” And this is a slice of his life.
The best way to do things that give you happiness and satisfaction is to concentrate on work and your dreams; everything else falls into place by itself.
Breaking into the world of films was not a planned step for him. One thing just led to another he says. He adds, “I never had any goal or plans of becoming a filmmaker, but my father indulged me often, read my palm and pointed to a few lines saying I’d be in creative field and that my Jupiter and Sun lines were very strong. I always took these forecasts with a pleasant and amused indifference,” he chuckles.
A student of literature, Brahmanand was always passionate about reading and writing and regularly contributed to Statesman and Telegraph while dabbling in theatre, radio and research assignments. He even recalls one odd job where he read newspapers and journals for an elder man who was waiting for his cataract operation to recover his vision. “The end result was I was finding a new experience, insight and knowledge worth meditating upon each day—it helped me grow a lot in a very short time.“
He wrote extensively—over 2000 write-ups within less than eight years. Gradually, he transitioned to writing screenplays and presentations. That is when he was drawn to the world of cinema. Eventually, he and his friend Priti Chandriani decided to make a documentary about Ahsgari Bai, an octogenarian dhrupad exponent languishing in Tikamgarh (Madhya Pradesh). That set the ball rolling for him. Brahmanad's association with Priti grew and they created many films together thereafter including A Burden of Love, Uncaging the Body and Ragpickers—Scavengers of a Different Graveyard.
Finally, the film that won him two National Awards and over 100 screenings happened—Pancham Unmixed. That was the turning point for his career as a filmmaker, however he is quick to point out, “Because I haven’t done much mainstream work, most from the industry still don’t know what I do, but they know that I’m onto something and something rather exciting, which they’ve not quite understood.”
Pancham Unmixed was an energizing and exasperating experience for Brahmanand. The film took three years to make. “I realized that whatever you do, if it is quality work, it’ll eventually pay off, even if for some time you may go through problems. The best way to do things that give you happiness and satisfaction is to concentrate on work and your dreams; everything else falls into place by itself.”
The only way to survive in this so called rat race is to stick to your vision and don’t go by rule books because no one knows the rules anyway.
A lot of filmmakers face similar difficulties which Brahmanand faced while seeking funds, but he has an interesting perspective— “I feel funding, though certainly not easy, is an overrated a problem. I find there is funding available for all sorts of films. But it will not come to you—you have to go to it. Make a compelling project which they will want to fund. Any project can be funded. One has to look for it, identify and work towards it in a focused way.”
What advice does Brahmanand have for filmmakers? “The only way to survive in this so called rat race is to stick to your vision and don’t go by rule books because no one knows the rules anyway. If they knew, they all would have been successes. What really matters at the end is your quality and your expressive voice mixed with the business acumen.”
These days Brahmanand is juggling quite a few projects. He had over 100 hours of leftover footage from Pancham Unmixed—that's a lot of priceless information about RD Burman! He’s now getting ready to release 5.5 hours of additional footage as part of Knowing Pancham. Times Music is launching this project this month. Brahmanand is also busy with two other films which he recently announced --a docu-feature about Jagjit Singh titled Kaghaz Ki Kashti and a film set against the backdrop of human trafficking titled Jhalki.
With so many projects on his plate, he still thinks he has potential waiting to be tapped into. “I feel I have been sleeping on my potential and have been very slow…suddenly I woke up and saw that there’s so much I have always wanted to express. But, I consider it part of my journey. Jab jago tabhee savera.”
Featured Image: Mridula Varaskar
Born and brought up in Washington, DC, Amanda Sodhi moved to Mumbai from Los Angeles to pursue her passion for music and now fronts a pop-rock band called The Chudail & Demons. She is a vocalist-lyricist, VO artist, journalist, award-winning screenwriter & filmmaker and also runs a social media & online PR firm called Artist Handle.