Interview with Rohit Dhulyia at the Second Haldwani Film Festival by Suchitra Awasthi
As a director one needs to keep on working relentlessly on one’s films without paying much heed to success. Here, on this note, I would like to narrate an incident. While I was a student, I made a short film called Rooh Afza. It was greatly appreciated in one film festival, but on being screened in another film festival, it was subject to criticism. This was a great lesson for me. I realized that day that one should have a balanced approach to life and not let emotions interfere with one’s work. Perhaps, this is what professionalism is all about
Suchitra Awasthi: I would like to begin by asking you about your life’s journey?
Rohit Dhulyia: I am from Delhi and have received my education from Delhi itself. However, I had never been interested in formal education right from my childhood days. After completing senior secondary school, I wanted to quit studies, but as the idea wasn’t a feasible one, I went for graduation in English from Delhi University. I took admission in BA 1 as a regular student, only to realize that I wanted to explore uncharted waters of my life, so I somehow managed the first year as a regular student, thereafter, I completed the remainder of the degree through correspondence, and embarked on my life’s voyage.
Suchitra Awasthi: I presume, you’ve journeyed much through films. How much impact have films made on your life?
Rohit Dhuliya: Yes, indeed, films have had a great impact on my life. I have been watching a lot of films since childhood days. But during my college days, when I started contemplating on making films, I literally fed on them. I also read a lot. All this helped me a lot later on while I was making films. I am very passionate about film-making. Films are an extension of me. I express my desires and experiences through my films.
Suchitra Awasthi: Did you take any formal training in film-making?
Rohit Dhuliya: No, I did not take any formal training as such. However, before I started making films, I joined an institution from where I picked up the nitty gritty of film making. To be honest, whatever skills I possess today, I have acquired them all by working with people.
Suchitra Awasthi: Whom do you consider as your major inspirations?
Rohit Dhuliya: I am very fond of international cinema. As I got interested in film making, I took membership of a film club. I have an extensive repertoire of films too. Veterans like Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles and Vittorio de Seca are my all-time favourite directors.
Suchitra Awasthi: Mr. Tigmanshu Dhuliya, the renowned film-maker, is your kin. How much of an influence has he been to you?
Rohit Dhuliya: Yes, of course, Tigmanshu ji has had a great influence on me. He has always been my guiding light and I seek help from him as and when required.
Suchitra Awasthi: Are you associated with his future projects as well?
Rohit Dhuliya: Yes, we are planning to work together on a few projects.
Suchitra Awasthi: Two of your films which are being screened at the Haldwani Film Festival, A Plea from the Himalayas and Wounds of Change, relate to Uttarakhand. What propelled you to leave the comforts of your home-town Delhi and venture into the inhospitable terrain of Uttarakhand?
Rohit Dhuliya: I originally hail from Uttarakhand. Thus, Uttarakhand has always been close to my heart. Some of my friends in Delhi were talking about the grave water crisis in Pithoragarh and it just occurred to me that I should go there and make a documentary on it.
Similarly, the massive dam projects in Uttarakhand are wreaking havoc on both the environment and on the lives of the people of the State. There was a strong urge in my heart to bring this issue to the fore and I did that through my film.
Suchitra Awasthi: Tell us something about some other films that you have made beside A Plea From the Mountains and Wounds of Change and how have they been received by public?
Rohit Dhuliya: I have been making films since college days. I have made short fictional films, films for students, films for Films Division of India and also for the State Government of Uttarakhand. Now I have my own production-house, Moon Ray Films, which gives me a lot of scope for experimentation and also caters to my much-needed space. My films have been screened at various film festivals like the Delhi International Film Festival and the Science Film Festival at Kerala. My film Wounds of Change was shortlisted for the Canadian International Film Festival.
Talking of reception, I would like to say one thing. As a director one needs to keep on working relentlessly on one’s films without paying much heed to success. Here, on this note, I would like to narrate an incident. While I was a student, I made a short film called Rooh Afza. It was greatly appreciated in one film festival, but on being screened in another film festival, it was subject to criticism. This was a great lesson for me. I realized that day that one should have a balanced approach to life and not let emotions interfere with one’s work. Perhaps, this is what professionalism is all about.
Suchitra Awasthi: How do you explore themes for your films?
Rohit Dhuliya: As I mentioned earlier, making films has always been a passion for me. Moreover, there are issues in the world that need to be addressed. Issues like environmental degradation, child labour, terrorism, are a great threat to mankind and I feel a strong urge to voice these issues and I do this through the medium of my films. I mainly make films on subjects I relate to.
Suchitra Awasthi: Would you like to tell us something about your future projects?
Rohit Dhuliya: I would like to continue working as an independent documentary film-maker. Besides this, television and fictional films are also on the cards.
Suchitra Awasthi: Here, in Uttarakhand, the youngsters who don’t come from affluent backgrounds and wish to enter into the line of film making have to face lots of ordeals, what message would like to convey to such youngsters?
Rohit Dhuliya: This problem is not just peculiar to Uttarakhand. It is prevalent all over the country. Even in a city like Delhi, parents do not encourage their children to pursue this line as there is no financial security in such endeavours, especially in the initial phases. I too faced a lot of logistical and financial problems earlier on. Funding is again a great problem in this line. Nonetheless, if you have a passion for film making, you blaze your own trail. Today, internet is the gateway to knowledge, and is easily accessible too. I would like to say one thing to these youngsters, make the best use of this facility and get equipped. Another thing that is very important is finding your own voice. Convey your point of view with conviction. Don’t get intimidated by anything. Just stay relaxed and focused and journey forth. If you have faith in your abilities, success will be all yours.
Dr. Suchitra Awasthi is Assistant Professor of English at Uttarakhand Open University, Haldwani