My Blog

My Blog
Tanuja Shankar

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Music Meri Jaan

Music Meri of the finest experiences of the 44 years of my life. It was a boring dusty day of latter part of 2011,  when I was immersed in the daily grind of Noida to Meerut, which was my destination of work everyday...a day when I was more worried to come with new and newer ideas of how to 'sell' the courses in media that I was in charge of as the Academic Head of a media institute tucked away in a small city of North India pretty close to New Delhi.
In the daily grit and grime of last many years, where inspite of working in the field that has always been close to me since childhood, my creative side had taken many a beating. Where the zenith of career could be reached by just adorning a big designation and not so big salary! Where the joi de vivre was not to do what you love..but to love what you are doing...where somewhere you inadvertently lose yourself...

On one such day, the germ of making my own movie was put in my clogged brain by none other than my own elder sister( Anuradha aka Anshu)...someone whose wishes have usually been my command...whose dreams have usually revolved around mine...and whose footsteps have usually matched mine, however many stumbles they might encounter...hence the germ of making a film seemed an obvious development in my brain because it had to BE.

As I said my footsteps matching my sister's had some positive repercussions down the years, most important of which being that I somehow became 'creative' ( though I still haven't understood what this means), but to my knowledge, I started creating...stories, concepts,ideas....and even some cliched poems! Hence the germ of idea to create a 'Feature Film' seemed natural! Afterall, if my sister feels and thinks I can make a film...sure I can!!!

Cut To 2012, Jan , my nimble fingers which have always somehow been fastest on the keyboard ( wish they had been fast on paper during my school, then I would have had a halo of achievement much much before..been a beaurocrat or a topcop or a haloed professor)...the same fingers moved fast and furious to complete my first screenplay ever written by me inspite of having been in non fiction world of television. Balancing my daily Noida-Meerut routine with the nocturnal screenwriting exercises, I was able to finish my first draft flat in 3 months...I thought haste is going to be a waste...

Once again my sister came to my rescue...she liked what she read...and having the ' real creative genes' of my highly erudite family, I had to trust her!

Thus started the journey of my first feature length Bollywood ( popular name hence I'm using) film...

Cut To Mid March, 2012...

I packed my bags and baggage to come down to Indore, to take guidance from my sister and family members, do the planning...planning for the finish what I had complete the script and to make the film!

Amongst other things, one thing that I'm proud of  achieving now after many years of sheer practice is the ability to exude confidence and positive energy in the darkest of times...which very cleverly hides the quakes and shudders of uncertainty...of nervousness...and lack of knowledge beautifully...

This confidence made me plan and execute the film, just the way I wanted, trusting my instinct and my gut feeling. If I felt the film demanded an pan India audition instead of a typical casting method for selection of cast, I went ahead with it...Resulting in fresh and talented people who did not disappoint me.

If I wanted to create the set and setting in Indore, and call professionals from Mumbai, I went ahead and it was successful. I trusted my inner voice in the selection of my crew, creative and technical crew members, I again gave in to my gut feeling...and result was a very cohesive, balanced, dedicated and professional team that worked round the clock, enjoyed the shoot and helped me LEARN and UNDERSTAND the minute details of the process of film making. An enervating experience...making me alive......helping me be the captain of my ship...making me realise my responsibility...thus...teaching me humility....

Each gruelling day of planning, scheduling, editing and re editing the script, getting in touch with each aspect of my above all being in control of my emotions...each moment was worth it...each moment made me stronger in my resolve to make the film with success...on time...without any glitch...with self motivation...and motivation from my' team'...a word I've learnt to respect highly!

And thats what happened...with the completion of the film in 35 paved way for my onward journey...that yes...I can and will make this film.

Cut To July-Aug, 2012, the film is on its way to get its shape and style...the characters emerge before my eyes giving that final shape...the story unfolds...the miracle of technique, creativity, planning and hard work emerges in its full shape and appearance..making me hold my breath...and make me think...just for a moment...This is not ME but US that has created it...and I wait for the bouquets or brickbats?

Moment to watch out for...

Tanuja Shankar

2012, March-Present
Feature Film, ‘Music Meri Jaan’, Duration 2, Hr, 30 Mins
2010-12, March
Directed & Produced documentary on Naxalism, titled, ‘The Red Terror: Naxalism’
Directed & Produced documentary on West Pakistani Refugees in Jammu seeking subjecthood, titled, ‘ Azad Desh Ke Ghulam Log’
Worked on a series of 13 episodes for a Health Show on NDTV Imagine Channel.
Directed 3 Travel Documentaries on Rural Tourism for Uttarakhand Tourism, titled, ‘ Devbhoomi’
July 2009-Dec 2009
Written Scripts for Radio Drama, ‘Life Gulmohar Style’ for BBC World Service
Scripting for a documentary on Kandhmal Riots in Orissa
Oct 2008-July 2009
Direction & Production of a Documentary for UNICEF on the problem of education for migrant workers and nomads & the concept of Mobile Schools for them, titled, ‘ Drops Of Sunshine’

May 2004 – Sept 2008                       

Aug 2003 – May 2004
 Directed/Scripted a documentary series called ‘Vanputri’ under Ministry Of Tribal Affairs, on a rare Paleolithic tribe of Madhya Pradesh, called Bharias which was telecast on Doordarshan.

May 2003 – Aug 2003
Director/Senior Executive Director
New Channel Nepal 1
This GEC (general entertainment channel) is run by the company TVLIVE, focusing on Nepalese programmes of all non fiction genres. Was in charge of revamping and re-packaging some of the existing fashion and women based shows.

Oct 2002 – May 2003

Directed a series of 52 episodes on Rural Development, for the Ministry Of Rural Development, telecast on Doordarshan. Also conceptualized Documentaries, Spots and promotional films for NGOs for Miran Productions.

Aug 2002 – Oct 2002

Worked as a Content Head for a quiz show, ‘Sone Te Suhaga’ for Zee Alpha Punjabi. Also worked as the Director/Scriptwriter for two corporate Films on the Jharkhand Tribal Co-operative Development Corporation

Dec 2001 – Feb 2002
Program Executive
Enadu Channel

Eenadu Channel is a private channel operating from Hyderabad. Worked as the Program Executive, for the Children’s Cell Programming and handled three shows from concept to direction and production. They were:
  • Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin: An inter-school fun & game show(Six Camera-shoot)
  • Bal-Dhamaal: A road show for children & teenagers having games, quizzes and prizes(single-camera shoot)
  • Hasti Ke Sang Masti: A kid’s celebrity chat show with five local children as the interviewers. A fun interview show of the local celebrities(double-camera shoot)

Oct 2001 – Dec 2001
Associate Director

Multimedia Communications is a top rated TV Production house in Delhi, which has carved a niche in producing women/fashion/cookery shows. Worked as an Associate Director for ‘Meri Saheli’, a daily women’s TV magazine for Star Plus channel. The work entitled doing daily soft and humane stories on legal, health, relationship, psychological and astrological issues related to women in general. The language was English-Hindi.


Aug 2001 – Oct 2001
Associate Director
Celebrity Chat show on Doordarshan

Worked as an Associate Director for a celebrity chat show, called ‘Let’s Talk’ for Doordarshan. The job entitled liaison with the celebrities like film stars, sports stars, politicians, singers etc, research and scripting, editing and final packaging of the episodes.

Jan 2001 – Aug 2001
Yahi Hai Right Pop’

As Director, handled 13 episodes of an Anchor based, musical countdown show on Indian Pop-songs. The work entitled, scripting, researching, shooting & packaging the episodes for ‘Sahara TV ’.

Nov 1997– Aug 2001
Director-Scriptwriter For BAG Films Ltd
Worked as Scriptwriter/Director programming for B.A.G Films Ltd, one of the leading TV production Houses in India which makes television software for all the leading national & private television networks

 -As the Creative Director for ‘Zaike Ka Safar’ , a unique food and travel show for 200 episodes on Zee TV.

-As the director/scriptwriter for 52 episodes of  fashion designers’ magazine show called, ‘Designer’s World’ featuring the top-notch fashion & product designers of India, their styles and lives which were telecast on the National Network of India, Doordarshan. The show was the first of its kind to be made in India and was in English.

-Also worked as the director/scriptwriter for 52 episodes of a travel magazine for Doordarshan, called ‘Colors Of India which was an in-depth exploration into two exotic locations of India, in one episode. This was also for Doordarshan.

Tanuja Shankar, has been in the field of media, particularly television for the last 18 years. A Masters in English Literature and a Diploma Holder in Mass Communication, she started her career by writing, acting, compering and teaching in the 1990s.
From 1996-2004, she was working actively in television, directing and producing a variety of TV shows of Lifestyle genres for TV channels like Zee TV, Star Plus, Sahara, Doordarshan, DD Metro, DD India, ETV, Nepal1 and many more. Some of the popular shows have been “Zaike Ka Safar”, “Welcome India”, Colours Of India”, “Meri Saheli”, “ Designers’ World”,” Yahi Hai Right Pop”,” Grameen Bharat”  to name a few. During this period only, she made a number of documentaries, corporate and promotional films, TVC and PSAs.
From 2004-2012, she has also been deeply involved in media education, assisting and promoting some well known media institutes like ISOMES( BAG Films, Noida), Purple Rose Arts & Media Institute( BKP, Noida), Indian Film & Television Institute(Meerut).
In the last 2 years she has produced some exemplary advocacy films and documentaries on socially relevant issues like “ Drops of Sunshine” for UNICEF  on Bridge Schools & Mobile Education for nomadic children, “ Azad Desh ke Ghulam Log” for INDIA FOUNDATION on the issue of citizenship & subjecthood to West Pakistani Hindu refugees living in a pitiable condition in Jammu, and finally , “ The Red Terror” a film on the violence of Maoism in India.
In 2010, she took charge of A.K Productions as Proprietor and has been keenly involved in developing niche concepts for programmes, shows and documentaries. Not only this, she is also involved in a Feature Film Project titled, ‘ MUSIC MERI JAAN’ soon to be released in India.

Refugees or Displaced Persons or Illegal Immigrants?

We have heard so much about the refugees entering India via Jammu & Kashmir since 1947...after the partition of Hindustan...a curse given to us by the honourable Nehrus, Gandhis, Jinnahs and many others! Partition took many lives and made the lives of many insufferable.Those who survived on the borders, and in the areas close bordering India & Pakistan had to choose..Hindustan or Pakistan?
We have heard of Refugees of the POK( Pakistan Occupied Kashmir)...heard of Pundits and Muslims...but there is a motley crowd of West Pakistani Hindu Refugees who entered Jammu to go towards Punjab in 1947..Sheikh Abdullah( then Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir) stopped them midway and asked them to stay in Jammu and make the borders their home.He promised them land and jobs...
They got land on lease never to be called their own...they never got any jobs from the government...and never rose above poverty line...because they are not citizens of J & K...they are still waiting to be called State Subjects on paper and verbally...
All this because they are not considered domiciles of J & they are from West Pakistan-Sialkot and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution doesn't allow them to be called State Subjects.
Is this what is called justified?
Would they ever be called citizens of J & K?
Will they ever be a part of Hindustan?
Who is responsible for this human rights violation?
The film, "Azad Desh Ke Ghulam Log" explores the deplorable condition of these people and raises several questions to be answered only by the policy makers, government and the civil society.

~ Synopsis of the film AZAD DESH KE GHULAM LOG
~ Written & Directed by Tanuja Shankar