Report by Rashmi r Parida; New Delhi: It is not easy not to be based in Mumbai and make a mark in the world of Hindi cinema, but Nila Madhab Panda has proved otherwise.
Delhi-based Panda, who hails from a remote village in Odisha, has emerged as one of India’s emerging generation of innovative young filmmakers with the international success of his debut feature film “I Am Kalam”, produced by NGO Smile Foundation (first time ever by a developmental organisation) and presented by Smile Foundation and Century Ply in association with Surya World.
The film, being released theatrically across India on August 5 by Reliance Entertainment, has won one dozen(12) awards at international and national levels till now, including the Best Child Artiste Award at the recently-announced 58th National Film Awards (please see complete awards list below), and its the first time an Odia film maker, Panda has achieved such big acclodes across the globe and now a big theatrical release in India. Madhab also received Prestigious “Aravindan Puraskaram” for Best debut Director. Two more feature film
(one bollywood and a English feature film in production now.
A veteran of over 70 documentaries, short films, television drama (including 2 long TV serials) and corporate & advertising films, Panda is right now in the midst of preparing several feature film and documentary projects out of his studio “Eleeanora Images” .
Though he left odisha 15 years back, but still closely associated with the stories and life of Odisha, he continue doing documentaries and short films in odisha for various international channels.
He never moved to Mumbai or Los angeles, having worked in those places for many years, but a challenging step he took to work from the capital and made a big success from there. “The idea is to work in a completely independent environment of filmmaking, so that I can make films on subjects that I am truly convinced in. The good thing about being based in Delhi is that here one can be connected with the whole of India in a true sense since it is the political capital of the country. Also, Delhi for long has been a favourite location for film shooting, but I am also trying to work towards getting it established as another film production location, in addition to Mumbai which is home to Bollywood,” says Panda.
Earlier, Panda was among the final three of “India’s Creative Future” award in 2007 and received the “Longest Journey Award” from the British Council. He was a United Nations Media Fellow in 2003 and got the UK Film Fellowship in 2005. In 2010 he was also honoured with the “Excellence in Media” for his work in creating awareness against female foeticide. He also received the “Heroism in Cinematography” award of the Hunger Project in 2003.Panda has made films for India’s National Broadcaster Doordarshan (DD), BBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and private producers across the globe.
At a very early stage in his career, the association with Barbara Brocolli (producer of James Bond films) and Robin Romanov gave him a window to make films that appeal widely all over the world. His 14 years of global experience in cinema, documentary and television has given him a strong understanding of contemporary storytelling methods. His films have won him various awards and he has served on the juries of several national and international film festivals.
Most of his films have subjects that deal with the society that he has lived in, during his long journey from a remote village to metropolitan cities across the globe. Quite naturally, he specialise in family and children’s cinema.His idea of dealing with social issues in an entertaining way has been applauded widely in successful campaigns like the 100-plus-episode series “Atmajaa” on female foeticide and other related issues that was telecast on DD.
In 1996, Panda founded Eleeanora Images, a production house, to produce diverse and cutting-edge films from India. The company has highly-qualified technical staff, a shooting floor and latest equipment. More details about the company are available at www.eimagesindia.com.
He also founded the “International Screenwriting Lab in India” in partnership with Performing Arts Lab, London, to create “quality family and children cinema scripts in Asian Cinema”. The lab is funded by the British Council, the European Union Media International programme, EON production, Goethe Institute, Germany, Cinekid, Amsterdam, Children’s Film society of India and HMV/ Saregama. It is a part of his movement for ‘Indian new wave cinema’, which is changing the face of Bollywood.
He has also served as the “Indian Creative Associate” for the UK Arts Council-funded Moti Roti 360 degrees 60x60 Secs programme. As part of this, 60 one-minute films were commissioned inBritain, India and Pakistan, to established and emerging artists from the South Asian Diaspora to present their personal perspective on what ‘home and boundaries’ mean to them.
60x60 Secs premiered as a multi-screen installation at Shunt and Vibe Gallery in London, UK and has had international presentations and screenings in India, Pakistan and Dubai. It has been screened within film festivals in Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore and United States.
About “I am Kalam” - A success story of Indian Independent Cinema:
“World market premiere” at the Market Section of the Cannes film festival, 2010.
Special show:National School Film Week, London, the world’s largest festival of cinema for young people. There was also a special screening in the National School show in Germany, and also at the Nehru Centre in London.
“I Am Kalam” is a proof that made-in-India Independent Cinema, if created with artistic content, reflecting true India in an entertaining way, has a big potential market. In a country that produces the maximum number of films anywhere in the world every year, most films fail to succeed because of lack of content, but films like “I Am Kalam” are trying to change that trend. This film is also important from the point of view of content for children, as in India, very little homegrown content is available as far as children’s cinema and TV are concerned.
• “Best child artiste” 58th national Film Awards 2011
• “Best debut Director” Aravindan Puraskaram 2011.
• “Best feature film” by the Young Jury at the 41st International Film Festival of India, Goa 2010.
• “Best feature film” at the Lucas International Film Festival, Germany 2010.
• “Best feature film” CMS Lucknow International Children film festival 2011.
• “Audience Award” Indian Film festival of Los Angeles(IFFLA) 2011
• “The Don Quixote Prize” of the International Cine Club Federations, Europe, 2010.
• “Viewer’s Choice Award” Montreal International Children’s Film festival, 2011
• “Audience favorite choice” at the Barbican London Children film festival 2010.
• “Special Jury mention” Cinekid International film festivals 2010.
• “Best actor work” at the Minsk International film festival 2010.
• “International Jury’s Special Mention” at the Ale Kino International Film festival, Poland 2010.
Showcased in over 35 leading International Film Festivals.