Rajni Mysore Chamaraj, along with her younger sister Shynica Mysore Chamaraj made The Day I Met Joshua, a short film about a social media influencer who encounters a path of self-discovery in the desert. The film was written, directed, and edited by both Chamaraj and Shynica and was screened at the Canadian Academy qualifying festival, Yellowknife Film Festival. The short film also garnered Chamaraj a Best Debut Director award at the Hollywood Film Awards and the Best Editor award in the New York Movie Awards.
“I always felt that film combined the paradox of human nature so well, sometimes the simplicity of a character has left a deep impact. It brought about many changes, subtle, yet life-changing for me. This thought always lingered as to how visual storytelling overcomes all the barriers, be it geography, the human mindsets, or cultural barriers.” – Rajni Mysore Chamaraj
Chamaraj got her start in Mumbai as the Assistant Creative Director for a television show on Star Plus, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, and eventually became involved in sports broadcasting as an Assistant Producer, creating live and pre-recorded content for sports including NBA games, Champions League, FIFA-U19 World Cup, French Open, World Rally Championship, PGA tours exclusive for the Indian audience.
After nearly working for four years in the television industry, Chamaraj took her first step to follow her dream of being a storyteller and made the tough decision to leave her job and take-up full-time filmmaking. Her younger sister Shynica, also a filmmaker, was a big influence on that decision. With both siblings having a strong love of the universal language of film and understanding of the other, both knew they needed to pursue filmmaking and eventually work together.
“As siblings, we always influenced each other synergistically through our 3:00 a.m. philosophical discussions or just staring randomly into the cityscape of Mumbai with the Arabian Sea in the backdrop,” recalled Chamaraj. “It’s during one such moment, it struck me that I should also get into serious filmmaking and that my sister and I would make a brilliant team. So our idea of teaming up as a family was born with an idea to create an entertainment company that creates multimedia content inspired by regional themes for a worldwide audience. Essentially, we want to use the power of filmmaking to create content that inspires and elevates the human spirit and Entertainment studio that nourishes and mothers evolved, elevated entertainment.”
Before venturing into the business of filmmaking, however, Chamaraj wanted to hone her skills and began talking to friends and colleagues about their own film industry journey, leading Rajni to learn more about New York Film Academy.
“I attended a two-month program in NYFA Mumbai and instantly fell in love with their teaching methods. You shoot and learn from your mistakes, and there was more hands-on experience than theory classes. The faculty were from around the world which gave me a glimpse into how a long-term program would look like.”
Eventually, Chamaraj applied and got accepted into the Film & Media Production MA program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. “While living in Los Angeles and studying in NYFA, the biggest advantage I got was that I worked on projects that had crew members from around the world. You get real-life experience of working on a film set right In the collage. [Students] can use this wonderful opportunity and make mistakes and learn from them too. It’s just a preparation for you to face the real world that’s not always as conducive as you would like it to be.”
“I am an Indian, the whole process of filmmaking is pretty different in India compared to the American way, so I had to learn a lot of new things such as division of work, laws of the land, and constantly update myself with the latest equipment, and technologies. So as an international student, you need to learn to adapt. You’ll learn that this is an important key that can make your career as a filmmaker outside your home country a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable. Go put your best foot forward, The staff and faculty at NYFA will be with you every step of the way. There were always there for me when I needed them.” – Rajni Mysore Chamaraj
Now, Chamaraj and her sister are in the thick of their careers, with the recent success of their short film The Day I Met Joshua, which received a positive global response on the film festival circuit.
The film is based on Chamaraj’s own experience while on a vacation in Florida. “My phone became unusable as its entire software crashed. That night, I had a sense of awakening because it felt like a personal loss, How could a mere gadget have such a deep impact on me?”
Chamaraj and Shynica then wrote the film and shot it in the Mojave desert. “It was both a challenging and exciting experience. On the third day of the shoot, we even had unexpected rain, we had to stop shooting for a bit,” she remembered. “While shooting in nature, we have to be extra prepared as we are fighting the uncontrollable elements and all this with a cool head.”
“We had crews representing almost nine different counties, from India, the USA, Cuba, Ireland to China. So as a team, we had to learn to communicate with each other effectively, considering each one of us was from different cultural backgrounds, it was important to keep the overall morale of the whole team-high and positive.”
In post-production, the film took its shape. With the film marking the first time Chamaraj and Shynica were officially working together, their whole family celebrated their Best Original Story win at Hollywood Gold Awards. “Even more surreal was when our film was screened to a private audience at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank in the very same auditorium where an iconic film like Casablanca was screened for the very first time.”
Chamaraj currently resides in India and is working on getting her work visa in the U.S. During the pandemic, the NYFA alum wrote, directed, and edited a short Spanish web series in LA called Finding Home, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime UK and US. As of now, Chamaraj is working on a four-part anthology series about the lives of four urban Indian girls living in different cities of India.
“We just shot the first part in Hyderabad city,” she shared. “I am also working as a screenwriter for an Indo-American feature film to be shot in mid of 2022. It’s going to be an exciting ride, I am looking forward to following my heart and dedicating all my energies to bring to life the stories that have had a deep impact on my life.”
New York Film Academy is excited to share the success of Rajni Mysore Chamaraj and her sister for the film The Day I Met Joshua and looks forward to seeing Chamaraj’s upcoming projects come to fruition in the near future.