For Abhimanyu Kanodia, storytelling was one art he was interested in since school days. Born in the city of Ajmer, the Kanodias enjoyed taking their children to watch movies.
“I was a good student at school and my parents wanted me to secure a conventional degree. But they always encouraged me when I participated in school plays and extra-curricular activities. My elder sister was a chartered accountant and even I had a liking for the profession. However, my family was never irrational. It was, in fact, my parents who introduced me to films. They started taking me to the cinema hall at the age of 4-5. At school, friends used to gather around me and I used to narrate them stories,” says Kanodia.
Kanodia later shifted to his sister’s place in Mumbai to pursue Chartered Accountancy. “I also enrolled in HR College for the B Com course. In those five years, storytelling took a back seat. However, I used to watch a lot of films for taking a break from academics,” Kanodia says. Film reviewing also attracted him and he had written about films for some websites. Kanodia was convinced he had to do something in the film industry.
Speaking about how he switched his career, he says, “I completed my CA course in 2012 and asked my family to give me a couple of years. I wanted to do something that I really loved. They were kind enough and agreed. I wanted to check if I could technically handle and execute a film. This brought me to Whistling Woods International.”
It was Whistling Woods that actually turned the tide for this youngster. At the end of the course, Kanodia directed a short film Kathakaar which had Piyush Mishra in the lead role. The film is about Prakash, who is a big cinema fan and loves telling and hearing stories. One day, under unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances, he loses his job and is forced to come back to his native village. The film has won many accolades at several national and international film festivals.
The film was also a semi-finalist in the Foreign Narrative category at the 43rd Annual Student Academy Awards and a finalist for the Jio Filmfare Short Film Awards, 2017.
Did he think Kathakaar would make it to the student Oscars, Kanodia says, “My focus was on making a good film. I concentrated on that. Piyush Mishra is a big name and brings a lot of experience. It was my privilege that I could use his years of experience to make it a great film,” Kanodia says.
There was no looking back for him after the success of Kathakaar. He got a chance to work with some of the finest artists in the industry. “We made Jangle Bells, a short film featuring Monali Thakur and Namit Das.
The film has more than 14 lakh views on YouTube. During the HP MTV Fameistan short film Abhineta, Radhika Apte was my mentor and Vipin Sharma played one of the leads. Both of them brought in a lot of expertise and professionalism,” says the filmmaker, adding, “Earlier, many stalwarts were scared or reluctant to work with new and upcoming directors. Now I see that they are eager to work with newcomers. This is a positive change.”
When asked if directors are getting enough liberty of filmmaking, Kanodia answers, “As an artist everyone must have basic independence. Today, films face many problems in festival screenings. This I think is alarming.”
“I am a writer-director. So I get to visualise the film from the writer’s and director’s point of view. People are not spending enough time on the content of the film. I don’t want to make that mistake. Currently, I am in the writing mode and will continue to be in this phase for some time. Apart from that, we recently completed Abhineta, a short film for MTV. It has clocked around 2 million views till now,” a smiling Kanodia says about his recent projects. The sun is surely rising on this young director.