With 43 films and 103 national and international awards and recognitions, Anshul Sinha is an Indie film-maker from Hyderabad. He has recently completed his upcoming project ‘Mitti – Back to the Roots’, a film based on farmer suicides and agrarian crisis in India under the guidance of Dr. G.V Ramanjaneyulu, director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. The film will be highlighting 25 major issues of the crisis and how to overcome the same.
My best childhood memories are when I practised in nets, my coach used to always appreciate my batting. With every ball he would motivate me. I remember all those days and want to live it again.
Not any personal experience, but after visiting many NGO’s I felt that I should do something big for them. Our film, Gateway to heaven is a bio-pic of a person who has completed the last rites of 12000 orphan dead bodies in Hyderabad. When we visited him for the first time, he took us to the morgue. There we had seen many dead bodies lying without proper care. The situation of government morgue in Hyderabad is horrible.
Outside the morgue there was a lady, around 45 years. Her son was missing for the past 4 months. Daily she would come and sit outside the morgue. When we approached her, she said she was hopeful that her son would return some day, and yet she came to check the faces of the dead bodies. She also visited all the local police stations in Hyderabad. When we inquired, we came to know that her son’s dead body was sold in organ trade illegally, two months back. She had been informed, but still she came.
That moment inspired me do something at least for that lady who nurtured in her heart, some ray of hope. I didn’t promise her anything but it shook my soul. That day I decided whatever may be the result, I will do a film on this cause. If my talent is not useful for this cause then my filmmaking is of no use either.
Filmmaking is the only art form which includes 24 crafts in it, which includes Research, Story, Screenplay writing, Story boards-framing-drawings, Cinematography, Art direction, etc. With the combination of all these 24 crafts we can communicate stories in a better way. Such kind of mixture you will not get in other arts and crafts.
For Gateway to Heaven we didn’t get producers. So we worked on night shift for 18 months to produce Gateway to Heaven. The film was shot on weekends. Later it got 5 theatrical releases in 5 international film festivals. But it didn’t achieve any official release in India. On 26th Aug this year, it will be screened in Miami at Aventura 24 theatre.
Mitti – Back to the Roots is a crowd funded film which will be highlighting 25 major issues responsible for agrarian crisis in India. For four months I involved in extensive research. While writing the screenplay of the film, we practically learnt farming and agriculture for two months under the guidance of Ramanjaneyulu GV (Executive Director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture). He was the first person to whom we pitched our story. We did the complete test shoot of the film in a single room and showed it to him. He liked our story very much; this was a motivation for us.
We went to almost twenty-two production houses in Hyderabad and in Mumbai but no one allowed us to even enter their office. Everyone told us to leave from the reception itself. Many sponsors said farmer suicides are common issues in a village but it doesn’t affect people living in the city. Until and unless it relates to the problems of the people in the city, no one will come to watch such films!
After three months of running behind the production houses, we decided to go for crowd funding. We made an appeal video in which we have mentioned the vision of our project. The main aim of our film is to save farmers’ lives. It must be sounding crazy that how a life can be saved with the help of films, but we are not going by our assumptions. We have practically proved it with our previous films.
Lapet and My Chocolate Cover. Both these films were shot on a mobile camera and they were silent films. These 2 films helped me to reach at global film festivals. Lapet has 25 awards and My Chocolate Cover has won 21 awards.
It’s not one; there are a number of challenges. I don’t get producers to make my films. Whatever money we get in the form of awards, we use that to make our next film. We are a crew of only three members but we take all these things as a challenge and try to overcome them.
We select subjects based on their strength to create a global connect. Selection of such subjects helps us to reach international audience. Our current project, Mitti, will be speaking about herbicide tolerant seeds which is one of the biggest problems that all farmers across the globe are facing.
We don’t have theatrical or a TV release of our films. We conducted 35 road shows for the film Gateway to Heaven in Hyderabad. The roadshows help us to interact with our audience. Their feedback after watching the film helps us to improve. Through the road shows we have raised 1 lakh rupees for Satya Harishchandra Foundation, who conducts the last rites of orphan dead bodies in Hyderabad.
I remember something which moved me a lot. There is one small village near Nalgonda; there a farmer was not able to pay off his debts and committed suicide. The mediator of that village visited his home and didn’t permit his dead body to be picked up till 10 days. He said, first pay my debt and only then will I allow the body to be cremated. The whole village collaborated to pay off the debt of that farmer.
I make films with a vision. Each of my films will follow a particular vision which I want that film to achieve. The current vision is to save farmer’s life in India. If we get a chance to make a film in Bollywood then we will surely make films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Chak De India, etc. These are the films which inspire a whole generation.