Winner of several National and International awards, achieving fame and recognition on the basis of hardwork in true Independent form, A unique personality is the guest for our first blog Interview. Beginning like any child who goes to school and later graduates, he transformed himself into something which people can hardly imagine. As an Independent artist who never relied on commercial/professional medium, he carved his own way into the world of Animation, VFX, short films with his utmost conviction and dedication. We are talking about Mr. Varun Mehta who has recently been featured on Wikipedia which is quite a thing for an Independent Filmmaker. Mehta is known for his animated films like ‘The Unknown World’ and ‘Save Trees’ and also his science fiction film ‘The Wonder Stone’. This year, he will step again into the field of Science Fiction with the sequel of The Wonder Stone that is ‘The Rise of The Wonder Stone’. Also one of his films has been selected into the International Nature Film Festival in Godollo, Hungary. We spoke to Varun about length on this achievements and his future plans. Below are the excerpts of the Interview.
First of all many congratulations on your film being selected in Hungary’s Festival. Please elaborate on that?
We made a short documentary where we covered a Environmental festival that is being organized in a school every year. The festival engages children in combating against Nature’s dangers like pollution, deforestation and climatic changes. I submitted my film and later got a call that my movie got selected. It indeed feels great to have your film screened with so many movies that comes throughout the world. When I was sent the catalog, I was blown away to see all the International films and filmmakers. I just feel lucky that my film made into such a big platform. And it’s the International Nature Film Festival that is being held at Godollo, Hungary, this is the second time my movie shall be screened there. Previously it was Save Trees that was being shown at Hungary in 2011.
How much is Nature Important to you?
Pretty much. We are born out of nature. Our bodies, they way we act, walk, sleep and all activities are part of nature itself. So Its important that we should value all the things that consists of nature. If you want to stabilize the balance between environment and people you need to act towards its protection. But unfortunately, we are more of the cause of its destruction. We have been polluting it since ages and might continue to do so. But those who do their part for its conservation are commendable. This shouldn’t be a lesson taught to everyone how to care for the environment. It is the conscience that works.
Besides this film, one of your films also received accolades in Kolkata Science Film Festival. Please tell us something about that.
That was pure by luck. I submitted the film in a very different category which was not even valid. I confused it with some another category. Later I sent the film and I was being told that I will have to put it into Children’s Category. I didn’t mind at all. I even had to give a student the rights of the director in the film. But I was surprised later when I was notified that my film was selected. The jury must have really liked something in that. It was about few children that are scared to participate in science tests where they think they would fail, but later an Imaginary character comes in their dream and tells them the value of Science. The film’s title is ‘A Dream that defined Science’. It was amazing to have it screened in Kolkata and I really enjoyed the experience. The film has now been released online.
Varun, why is it like that Indian Animation Industry keeps churning out the same mythological films again and again? Recently Hanuman Da Damdar was launched and we don’t see anything new about the film? What do you think that after repeated attempts, Animation hasn’t found its seeds here.
Quite obviously, there are lack of concepts, ideas and stories. You can’t blame even the makers because they don’t want to put huge risks on something which has more chances of not working. People in India would love to go to watch a New Improved Jungle Book but they won’t watch an Indian Animated film. There is a lot to do with awareness, we have some strong comic book characters but they don’t make it to big screen. Also if one movie fails badly, others get their feet cold. Remember what happened with the animated remakes of ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ and ‘Kuchhie Kucchie Hota Hai’ both were shelved. At the end what makers see only the mythological characters that might make some bucks for them. But for how long? Like I have said on many platforms, it has a lot to do with acceptance. In the west, Animation films are not seen as ‘kids films’ Every generation from a kid to a handsome youth to a grandfather enjoy them whole heartedly. Unless something like that doesn’t happen, the struggle continues….
You have been dealing with Animation world since so so many years, What do you think in general, the circumstances that prevent youngsters into getting in Animation Industry.
Well I wouldn’t take a judgmental call on this. But based on my personal experiences I think youngsters just lack dedication. They are not concerned about how big their mark is going to be in the Animation Zone but instead they worry about jobs and salaries. Many of them come to me and I get a huge number of calls every year on the requirements itself. Even parents of youngsters call me up and ask if I could suggest them something. Also people send me messages like ‘Sir I am your big fan’ this and that..but It’s always easy for me to figure out what their real Intentions are. And trust me, I try to help them but before that I always ask them If they are dedicated enough for this field, Jobs and salaries do not belong here. They are just a requirement but its a field of passion. And when they find out that It is not helping them much. They just disappear (laughs) and so their messages of appreciation and all. When I began, I never asked anyone for work. Like other people who mostly use Internet for Social Media. I used it as a tool for opportunities, work and projects. And since I began, I never ever looked back. Since 2009 to 2017, there hasn’t been a single year by god’s grace where my work didn’t find appreciation. I stood for myself and came out from the crowd on my own. No one teaches you this, It’s your own dedication and passion that takes through. With your will, you can carve your own niche. Moving forward and never looking back is the best policy for any artist. The day you stop, everything stops for you.
With the announcement of your new film ‘The Rise of The Wonder Stone’ You are finally stepping back in scifi, vfx and animation. How excited you are? Kindly tell us something about the film’s story and cast in detail.
The Rise of The Wonder Stone is the sequel of my award winning Sci-Fi Film ‘The Wonder Stone’ that was released in 2011. I always wanted to make a sequel from the beginning itself but the story could not materialize. Also most of the cast was missing but fortunately now everything has fallen into place and we are moving forward with the sequel. The new story shall begin from where it ended. The story still deals with the friendship of the cast and the consequences of the stone they came in contact with. This time it will be derived towards human emotions more than Science Fiction.
3 Cast members shall not be returning. Those who are returning to the film are – Arya Varshney (Namrata Joshi) Rajat Sharma (Akash/Dweep Singh) Nishant Pratap Singh (Prashant Tyagi) Komal Singh (Deeksha Singh) Swati Agrawal (She had a small role in the last film but will be playing one of the leading characters this time) and finally a new cast member shall be joining us, Vikram Badsara who will play Vishal Sinha.
Varun, we have heard that for your personal films, you like to work on them Independently and takes the charge for most of the departments alone. Why is that?
See, If I am involved in a professional project, I know I am dealing with a client I know that I have to offer quality so in that case, team work becomes very Important. You have to work in that tight zone to deliver what you are asked for. But in Independent productions, you have the liberty to do things your way. I am a story teller, In my films, it’s the story that counts more than anything else. My vision is always clear on what I want to do. People would find difficult to work according to my working style and I don’t like too much involvement in the process either. That’s the reason I take full charge of my films. I know the work on ‘The Rise….’ shall take a toll on me just how the previous film did, but that is where the fun lies. Challenges help films become better.
What is next in the pipeline?
I have received a couple of Invitations from few film festivals and I shall be sending my films across also The Rise of The Wonder Stone shall keep me busy till next year.
On this positive note, we ended our chat with the talented filmmaker. And wished him all the best for this future plans.
We will be back with another personality to interview next week.