Brahmanand S Siingh is a very unique combination of being an outstanding, multiple award-winning and well-recognized filmmaker, a vastly published author and a Life Coach. He has also been nominated for REX-Karmaveer-Chakra Awards, in partnership with the United Nations, for transforming lives through social impact projects and ideas of hope.
He has been vastly recognized for his experiential and inspirational biopics on iconic legends like RD Burman and Jagjit Singh (Pancham Unmixed & Kaagaz Ki Kashti), movies that have acquired a cult status, in addition to social and emotional cause-based films like Jhalki, a story of hope, courage, compassion and self-belief against the backdrop of a story of lost childhood & human trafficking.
Many other films like Riding on a Sunbeam, Through our Eyes, Ashgari Bai, Ragpickers, Uncaging the Body and A Burden of Love continue to be popular and loved.
He has been invited to be on the Jury, film and script selection committee of various International Film Festivals and award platforms. He also conducts filmmaking and scriptwriting workshops in film festivals and institutes. He has also set out to create exciting Biopics on many contemporary and historical icons of India who have inspired our lives and leave a legacy for the future. In a candid chat with us, he shares about the idea of making a documentary on Jagjit Singh and R.D Burman, challenging part for creating documentaries on such renowned personalities and lots more…
Expresso: What made you come up with the idea of making a documentary on Jagjit Singh and R.D Burman?
Brahmanand: Music is the only thing with which I am quite close, and also I can relate to music with me. I belong to a musical family. Apart from that, I took a great interest in storytelling as well as making films as well, which I felt was quite good actually since I had a lot of experience. Then I started taking interest in making documentaries as well. In this, all you have to do is take interest in certain subjects, and I feel that if you do not give efforts in making films on these, then after a certain period the legacy will be over. After the death of R.D Burman, everyone used to praise his work, but no one gave enough effort to pay a tribute to him. The movie features those personalities with him like Shammi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and others. The movie became a hit and it got featured in Arclight Hollywood Premiere. Many other film festivals took this film, it won two national awards. After a few years, I started making a film on Jagjit Singh in the same way which again became famous.
Expresso: Does ‘Kaagaz ki Kashti’ talk solely about Jagjit Ji’s singing career or it dwells on his other side of life as well?
Brahmanand: People believe that when finding the history, and the lifetime achievements of any person, it will be impossible to judge that person based on the work he does. Instead, it is best if a person is judged through who he is and how he has been their entire life. Many other personalities had a better voice and talent. So, I will certainly not say that ‘Kaagaz ki Kashti’ is just about Jagjit Ji’s career; rather it’s the man behind the personality. For knowing what the film is about, you have to just watch it. The film is not just about music, but his entire career, things he faced, what made him choose singing as his career, how his work affect people, etc. So this is all about R.D Burman and Jagjit Singh’s movie is all about.
Expresso: How challenging it was to work for creating documentaries on such renowned personalities?
Brahmanand: It is certainly challenging since these eminent personalities have made a lot of achievements throughout their lifetime. So, at the time of making the film, it became tough to decide on the things to keep in the film and the things to eliminate, things to focus on, especially when I sat for editing. So, in that way, it is quite challenging, but if you ask me then I would say that this kind of challenge is quite pleasurable. I feel that making such kind of documentaries is certainly compassionate and yet pleasuring. At least, if someone asks then I can say that I work on such renowned personalities and listen to their music.
Expresso: How much time did it take to shoot the documentary?
Brahmanand: Both the documentaries on R.D Burman and Jagjit Singh took about three and a half years to complete shooting and other miscellaneous works.
Expresso: What are the other projects that you are working on?
Brahmanand: One of the latest projects in which I am involved currently is the extension of the R.D Burman film that I have named as ‘Pancham Legacy’. It is mainly a web series and the duration of it would be of around six and a half hours. The web series will contain the things which the film did not have. Due to the problem of time restriction, I could not put everything in the movie, but the web series will have every detail missing in the film. Another one which I will start working soon is Indi-Pak, and I am looking forward to it. But, for now, I am planning to hold it due to some reasons. Once everything gets clear I will start working on it soon.
Expresso: How joyful or challenging it was to work with kids in ‘Jhalki’?
Brahmanand: I would say that working with the movie was quite challenging yet inspiring. Also, I felt great working with seasoned actors such as Tannishtha Chatterjee, Divya Dutta, Boman Irani, and Sanjay Suri. Everybody loved working in Jhalki, and the kind of acting and other talents, which the actresses use to have was quite motivating. They were so quick and use to catch things easily and never use to get tired of anything. It is easy to work with the grown-ups since you can explain everything, but when it comes to kids, it’s tough to describe things. So, overall, I would say that I had a great time and experience working with them.
Expresso: What was the most challenging part you faced while shooting ‘Jhalki’?
Brahmanand: I had to face a lot of challenges when shooting for Jhalki since we had to shoot in 48oC and kids where there who were working with us. I had a fear of what if the kids fall sick so we use to take good care of them. Another most challenging part was when cops use to create a problem with our shooting. The cops stopped our shooting for at least four to five days. So, these kinds of challenges we faced.
Expresso: Since it is a story of 90’s so what measures you took to give that 90’s look?
Brahmanand: We had to face challenges when we had to get props that would match with the scene. We also had to shoot some bus stop scenes, and for that, we made a set that looks real. Also, I found out the movies that were running during that time as well as the advertisements, which I had to use in the sets. But, I would say that this is the part of the shoot since when talking about any period, these things are compulsory.
Expresso: “Hopping on the train track” scene was very unique and heart-touching…How have you woven dream, folklore and reality together to tell your story?
Brahmanand: That was a dangerous one. We shot it on railway tracks at night of what is one of the busiest railway routes in the country! Every 5 minutes there is a train passing by! We had to appoint our own Sambhas to keep guard and inform us the moment train was visible. In between, we practised and lit the entire section and shot. That too with kids who were like half asleep at 3 am! Finally, with the daybreak, we winded up!! One of the most chilling experiences … Dangerous but achieved with extra brownie points!! Yes, the film has a few dream sequences … It’s a psychological insight into the Jhalki’s fears and aspirations and states of mind. And then there is another kind of dream, the folk story … So in a way, it is a very layered film of interpretation, inspiration and allusions, but all of it told in a mainstream, the popular format of adventure and search!!
Expresso: Describe yourself in three words…
Brahmanand: Observant, expressive, and inspiring.