In this new series, we'll introduce you to the rising stars in the film industry. These are names you may not know now, but we think you're going to hear a lot about them in the future.
Rishi Chandna is 37 years old and has one film to his credit, Tungrus. Tungrus is a documentary short about a rogue chicken who lives in a cramped apartment with two cats named Ginger and Garlic and four members of a middle-class family in Mumbai. In 12 minutes 36 seconds, Tungrus captures comedy, conflict and even a dash of tragedy.
The film has been shown at over 50 festivals including the prestigious HotDocs and International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and the BFI London Film Festival. It's won a slew of awards and was picked up by The New York Times Op Doc page. After winning the Best Jury award at the SlamDance film festival, Tungrus is now also an Oscar qualifying film for 2020.
I'm from a middle-class family in Kolkata. I couldn't get into film school. I tried many times but they kept rejecting me! I don't think I'm good at interviews. I got rejected by FTII a couple of times. All my learning has come from watching a lot of films and reading books that other filmmakers and masters have written. I've done some commercial work in advertising also and as an independent filmmaker I use what I earn from there to make my own film. That's a model I'm going to follow for my next film as well.
LEARNINGS FROM HIS FIRST FILM
When I was at the last stages of Tungrus I realised I had a pretty strong film on my hands. I also realised that I'm not just a director but a producer as well. I wanted the world to see this film, I wanted it to travel and be exhibited, pick up awards… the whole gamut. I had to become my own publicist, my own festival distributor, and I spent hours working out my festival strategy.
ROLE MODELS IN THE INDUSTRY
Amongst contemporary filmmakers, I really like Raam Reddy's work. I was blown away by Thithi. It has that same understated and self-assured vision that I admire a lot. I would say that I aspire to make that kind of a film which is so powerful without being heavy-handed.
ADVICE TO YOUNG INDIE FILMMAKERS
Make a great film. But after that also figure how it's going to be seen by people. Don't leave it just to your producer to figure your festival strategy – there's a lot you have to take on yourself. So be invested and create an ecosystem around your film which will help it get out there.
You can watch Tungrus here