1) How did you get into directing?
My background is in film editing. I have been a professional editor at Final Cut USA for quite some time. A few years ago, I edited two feature documentaries that screened at several A list festivals around the world. The experience was life changing and I realized I had a lot more to say. It also reminded me that I had aspired to write and direct films in college before I fell into editing. Three years ago, I won a grant to write and direct a narrative short film. It was a personal story and I loved every aspect of writing, directing and finishing it. I have since then directed three narrative short films. One of them, “Love Comes Later,” premiered in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
2) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project was a short narrative film called “Miles of Sand.” I was one of five directors from all over the world chosen to do films on child abuse. It’s a co-production with an award winning Swedish production company Momento Films. My film is set in India. It’s a red riding hood tale about a young girl who has to go through child marriage. The films will screen at the Cannes Film Festival this year followed with screenings at Venice, Lacarno and TIFF.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
I love creating a never before seen world through mise-en-scene, framing and colors. And I love working with actors. I love shaping an actor’s performance to create surprise and spontaneity on screen. Fortunately, I have had the chance to work with incredibly talented actors and I hope to continue that trend.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part might be having to sit through days, weeks of casting and rejecting actors. Also perhaps the stress of feeling like I’ll never find the right person for the role. Casting is critical to any story and finding the perfect cast feels like a miracle every time. There is always a story.
5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I am focusing on a few things currently. One of them is working on the feature version of the short film, “Love Comes Later,” that premiered at Cannes. I also recently signed with the management company Circle of Confusion and I am developing two TV shows and two features with them including “Love Comes Later.” Given my background in commercial editing, I would love to be able to direct commercials and branded content and switch between short form and long form seamlessly in the future. So far the genres I’ve tackled are drama and thriller but I believe the genre has to serve the story. In the future, I plan to integrate comedy and action as well.
6) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I have had a few mentors. Stephanie Apt, president of Final Cut, has known me for years. I joined Final Cut right after graduating college. Stephanie has seen me change and take many shapes and forms from assisting on commercials to editing commercials, editing feature narratives and documentaries and now, directing. I have leaned on her for advice, support and encouragement and she has always been one of my biggest champions. Stephane Dumonceau, editor at Cosmo Street and director at Moxie Pictures, is another mentor. Because we are both editors and now directors, we have shared resources and advice for years. I also consider some of my peers Christine Turner (director) and Leah Meyerhoff (director) mentors as they have also been champions of my growth in the last several years.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
I have so many but a couple of my favorite directors are Jane Campion and Xavier Dolan. “The Piano” left an indelible mark on me as a young filmmaker. It was a film that presented a truly unique story and characters in addition to presenting a nuanced world of feelings with performances that were as original as the characters. Recently, I have loved Xavier Dolan’s films. I find that the performances in his films are always riveting and electric.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Favorite film: “Fargo.” Favorite television show: “The Knick.” And favorite commercial is Canal+’s “The Bear.”
9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in India until the age of thirteen and then moved to the United States with my parents. We moved straight to New York City and I have been a die hard New Yorker ever since. I interned with various production companies in development and production during my summer vacations in college. One summer, I interned for Kodak at the Cannes Film Festival. We were in Cannes for 3 weeks, setting up for the festival and helping coordinate several filmmaker panels. I even had an all access badge with which I attended several film screenings and premiers. It was certainly the most interesting and glamorous summer job I had and I promised myself I would return to Cannes with a film one day. After I graduated from undergrad, I joined Final Cut and have remained there ever since as an editor.