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of the Month
|SUCCESSFUL INDIAN OF THE
||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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
Safina: Tell the truth.
|In the Previous Issues:
Vikrant Kapoor - Zaaffran Restaurant
Dr. Jagnnath Mazumdar
Naville Roach - Fujitsu
Dr Arapaut Sivaprasad -
Jeet Bindra - Caltex
Dr. Bhuvan Unhelkar
Safina Uberoi - My Mother India