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SUCCESSFUL INDIAN OF THE MONTH
Rooma Nanda is currently in the finance industry, working as a residential mortgage consultant. She has over 10 years work experience with various corporates, such as, IBM and Yellow Pages. Rooma has done her MBA from Sydney, and is passionate about learning on a constant basis.  This column is to highlight the achievements of certain individuals who could be a source of inspiration for others. Email 
Recently acclaimed documentary My Mother India has highlighted a name in the world of media today and that name has become adorable to all the serious film lovers in Australia. Safina Uberoi - our column guest for this month - is not only a great filmmaker but is a compassionate, extremely humble, and a highly inspirational person. 

Photo By - KATERINA STRATOSThey say that putting all your heart and soul into what you define as your mission in life will inevitably bring success to you one day. Safina decided very early in her life that nothing else but filmmaking is her destiny at the time when she was working with disadvantaged children in India helping them devise their own plays and make short films about their lives. A long dedicated journey with a lot of challenges has brought Safina tremendous acclaim and loads of affection from the audience. Remarkably, none of this could turn into a negative by-product of success for her. My Mother India - her latest documentary -
has already won ten reputable awards, the most prestigious amongst them is Rouben Memoullian Award at the Sydney Film Festival.

Safina belongs to an academically oriented family as both her parents are lecturers, grand father a popular writer & artist of an exceptional integrity - Mohan Singh 'Divana' and grandmother a scholar throughout in her school. Safina's decision to make independent films was influenced by her grandfather. Safina's own academic background is also very impressive being a student of prestigious schools like Australian Film Television and Radio in Sydney and Mass Communication Research Centre in New Delhi. Safina's record of achievements go back to India when she won the National award for best documentary with a social message for her first documentary called, A Matter of Motherhood. After moving to Australia, she has made several short films, such as, Guru, The Serial Shaver, Faith and The Brides of Khan.

For more details on My Mother India and the awards it has won, please visit the following sites: MMI, MMI1, MMI2, MMI3, MMI4

Meeting Safina was a great inspirational experience and we found out about her passionate and charismatic persona even more closely: 

Q: Safina, being the writer and director of your films, what in filmmaking fascinates you the most. Is it writing or directing?
Safina: Directing is the axis of the circle of filmmaking. Directing involves a bit of doing everything. I have loved photography, art and specially dancing. For me directing is like a dance of the images. I would like to depict my story in dancing images which captures the interest of the audience.

Q: You have made films both in India and Australia, did you find any major differences in the filmmaking in two different environments?
Safina: In India there are lot of external influences attached to the filmmaking. It is difficult to express your own vision to create an independent film. For example, Government regulations is the most influencing factor in granting funds to a film. In Australia, it is far more easier in these terms but its highly competitive. 

Q: Tell us briefly about your previous films? What has been the source of inspiration to those stories.
Safina: I have made The Brides of Khan - a documentary on wedding ceremonies belonging to various cultures. The film was seen by 170,000 people in the first screening only. Then I made a comic film for children The Serial Shaver based on the character of Jim Carey in Ace Ventura. The distribution company made $29Million out of it. Guru was made on an Indian family here in Australia. Faith was made in India with the help of Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness Dalai Lama. The theme of the film was based on the secular and hormonal community living in India. We chose a notorious place called 'Majnu Ka Tila' in the hub of old Delhi. The place is famous for illegal migrants from Tibet, muslims who were supposed to leave India at the time of partition but never did and many others. Various religious are and have lived together at that place in harmony at the time when the rest of the nation was burning in communal riots. An interesting true story of a Hindu family who has opened a Durgah ( a holy place for the muslims to pray) in their house and all sorts of people from different religions come there to pray. The message we wanted to convey was that irrespective of the politically motivated communal disturbances in a country like India, philosophy of common people lies in communal harmony and that is their FAITH of living. The film was sold in Hawaii, Germany, cable networks of US and Canada.

Q: Now that the world's attention is diverting to Bollywood, have you thought of making feature films in the near future.
Safina: I am planning to make fiction films. There is one project I am currently working on - Last temptation with Rice. The film is in English, based on a fictional restaurant called 'Nehru's Indian Restaurant.' I will never stop making documentaries. In any case, I believe feature films and docos are like a right hand and a left hand of the film industry. Having an interesting story is essential to both, specifically in a documentary. All the famous feature filmmakers started their careers as documentary makers. While making a documentary you learn how to tell interesting stories.

Q: In your opinion, should film media carry a tag of social responsibility or should it focus purely on entertainment for the audience? How do you define film making?
Safina: A film should be in conversation with the audience. The artist should have a message which can be conveyed through both heart and head however great messages always come from the heart. I believe that a heartiest honesty should be conveyed to the audience. A great example is Guru Datt's movies because all his movies conveyed honest messages to the society. I also think that films should be non judgemental. Telling people what they should be doing is not the right way of filmmaking. I believe that a Commercial film will make more money if the message is coming straight from its heart. On the other hand, Arts movies will be doing better if the artist speaks to the audience honestly.

Q: How do you define culture?
Safina: Culture is many things such as Religion and your social values. Danger lies in half baked culture or window dressing of a culture. These days I am learning Martial Arts in the evenings and I see Chinese kids there who are learning their language, their martial arts, they prefer eating Chinese food which shows a proud affiliation to their culture. I am sure that due to this reason Chinese will rule the world one day. On the other hand, we Indians are so embarrassed of our own language. We pay the prophet to learn Sanskrit for us. That's not religion or culture. In a fundamental way, that shows a complete loss of culture.

Q: What would you like to say to the inspiring filmmakers?
Safina: Tell the truth.
In the Previous Issues:

Anupam Sharma
Vikrant Kapoor - Zaaffran Restaurant
Rashmi Mehrotra
Dr. Jagnnath Mazumdar
Naville Roach - Fujitsu Australia
Dr Arapaut Sivaprasad - WebGenie Systems
Suda Navada
Jeet Bindra - Caltex
Dr. Bhuvan Unhelkar
Safina Uberoi - My Mother India Anupam Sharma Bobby Singh Sheba Nandkeolyar
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