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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Tushar Tyagi Films ‘Saving Chintu’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Tushar Tyagi has shot Saving Chintu, a film exploring LGBTQIA+ themes in India, starring Life of Pi actor Adil Hussain.

    Tushar Tyagi Saving ChintuTyagi originally hails from India and attended the 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2013. He is currently based in Hollywood and has won multiple awards and nominations for his work, including at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards and the Canada International Film Festival. His previous film was the 2017 short Kaashi.

    “I thank New York Film Academy for the constant support, from where it all started,” Tyagi tells NYFA. “I’m thankful for the valuable time I spent there, developing much-needed skills required for an independent filmmaker. It’s been an absolute pleasure learning my craft at most hands-on practice academy in the world.”

    Saving Chintu was directed by Tyagi, who co-wrote the film with Sanyam Kumar and Corey Wright. The cast includes Edward Sonnenblick, Sachin Bhatt, Dipannita Sharma, Priyanka Setia, and Adil Hussain (Life of Pi, Hotel Salvation, What Will People Say.) The short was produced by Ritika Jayaswal and Tyagi.

    The film is already receiving buzz for its thoughtful exploration of LGBTQIA+ themes in the Indian and Indian American community. The story focuses on the lives of an Indian American gay couple who visit India to adopt a child suffering from HIV, examining social issues including the LGBTQIA+ communities of India, HIV/AIDS, and the child adoption system. 

    In 2018, homosexuality was decriminalized in the country by the Supreme Court of India, making it more relevant than ever for these themes to be explored by artists and filmmakers like Tyagi. 

    “I feel making this film is so important for me,” says Tyagi. “It’s like my calling, to start the conversation in my small capacity and to start a wave of change in the evolving circumstances around the globe and in the world of present Asia. It’s high time to create awareness and start a conversation on a bigger level through the medium of film and art for social issues like these.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Tushar Tyagi on Saving Chintu and wishes him success as he continues to explore complex and socially important issues through his work.

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    September 16, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 790

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Dishani Chakraborty

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Dishani Chakraborty is ready to make her mark on the Bollywood scene. The young actress grew up in India, first in Coimbatore and then Mumbai, before moving to Los Angeles to study acting. Dishani first took the NYFA 4-week Acting for Film workshop before moving on to the 1-year Acting for Film conservatory at our Burbank-based campus.dishani chakraborty

    Since then, Dishani has steadily been increasing her skills as an actress as well as her presence online. When she returns home, she plans to hit the ground running with a career in acting that will follow in the footsteps of her brothers and her father, noted and award-winning Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty (Disco Dancer, Agneepath, Suraksha). Indeed, buzz around her is already growing—she recently appeared in a photo story for Times of India.

    New York Film Academy recently spoke with Dishani Chakraborty about her favorite classes at NYFA, her artistic family, and what influences and inspires her as an actress:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Dishani Chakraborty (DC): I grew up in a small city in the south of India called Coimbatore. I lived there with my three older brothers and parents for about nine years until we moved to Mumbai. 

    Growing up in a household full of artists, I knew when I was really little that I wanted to be an actor. A normal day in my house consisted of my family talking about movies, both Hollywood and Bollywood. My siblings and I would watch at least one movie a day after school. I was so influenced by Western culture because of the number of movies and TV shows I watched and the music I listened to. 

    I knew that I wanted to go abroad to learn the craft of filmmaking and acting once I finished high school. And what better place to learn than Hollywood itself. That’s how New York Film Academy came in the picture. I did a short, 4-week Acting workshop back in 2016 at the Los Angeles campus and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was the best intensive course I had ever taken. I was blessed to have incredible teachers. So I decided to come back and do a 1-year Acting conservatory to gain more knowledge and experience before I started my journey in Bollywood.

    dishani chakrabortyNYFA: What attracted you to learning the craft of acting?

    DC: I think I was lucky because I had the access to learn the craft of acting from a very early age thanks to my father being an actor. I remember going on his film sets and being astonished by every little aspect. But for me, the thing that excites me the most about an actor’s job is that their learning process never ends. As an actor, you really never stop growing or learning. There’s so much you can prepare for, discover and explore. As actors, we’re lucky that we can choose to be versatile by doing one job.

    NYFA: What inspires you as an actor?

    DC: Growing up, I saw a lot of Natalie Portman’s work—I felt very much like her. Because I’m a petite person with a baby face and even though I’m over 18, I’ve looked 15 for quite a long time. Natalie Portman has been a big influence on me as an actor. Watching her versatility from doing something like Léon: The Professional to Star Wars to one of my favorite movies of her, Closer. I hope to get roles with that kind of range, whether I work in Bollywood or Hollywood.

    NYFA: Your family has a great deal of experience in the entertainment industry. How do you differentiate yourself from the work they’ve done?

    DC: I’m a firm believer in there’s no “recipe for success.” Everybody’s journey is completely different. I do feel blessed because I’ve learned a lot of things about “showbiz” from my family and it certainly gives me a boost, but my father has raised my brothers and me to be hard workers, and most of all to work our way to get things.dishani chakraborty

    And I think living in LA and working here has given me a great dose of experience and independence, and I think that will help me a lot when I start working in Bollywood. I want to achieve things through my talent and hard work.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you find yourself using often?

    DC: My favorite class in NYFA was Technique & Scene Study. I can say hands down that my teacher, Mr. Dig Wayne was by far the most excellent teacher I’ve ever had. I was lucky enough to also have him when I did the 4-week program in 2016. When I started NYFA, I was very shy and self-conscious. He taught us the craft of method acting and I think his class helped me overcome so many of my inhibitions. 

    I still remember my first class with him and he made us do an exercise where we closed our eyes and he told us to hear our mothers calling our name. It was the biggest triggering point for me. And he told me to open my eyes and start my scene right then and there with those emotions. I felt so authentic and organic. His method was discovering as much information as possible for your character. Their backstory, their body language, even how you think they’d sound like. I think that’s been such an important take away for character build up.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    DC: Like I mentioned before, as actors, we never really stop learning and growing. Take your time and learn. Take notes! I still to this date go back to my notebook for an audition or a shoot to read notes that I’d made while I was in school. 

    Don’t be afraid to be first in class to go up on stage. Being a shy kid, I always felt like my heart would sink into my stomach every time I thought of going first. But believe me when I say, it’s SUCH a confidence boost when you do. 

    dishani chakrabortyAnd for students starting out, I would recommend creating your own content as well. Write! I know it’s easier said than done and the first draft possibly will be trash and will suck. However, don’t be discouraged—the process of recognizing that will only make you better at it. 

    Lastly, try to be in front of the camera as much as possible. As actors, we’re born to critique ourselves. But the positive side on that is you’ll discover so much about yourself when you watch yourself. And HAVE FUN!! Because these are going to be the best days of your lives.


    New York Film Academy thanks Acting for Film alum Dishani Chakraborty for taking the time to thoughtfully answer our questions and share her experiences with the NYFA Community! 

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    June 19, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1172

  • Loveratri, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, Arya Babber and More From New York Film Academy Mumbai Alumni & Guest Speakers

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    Since opening its doors in May 2017, NYFA Mumbai has seen an incredible year filled with student successes, insightful guest speakers, special master classes, and powerful storytelling. If you’re a film buff, whether you’re in the capital of Bollywood or simply streaming movies from anywhere in the world, you won’t want to miss what’s been happening at NYFA Mumbai.

    Check out these alumni success stories, as well as some of the luminaries that have visited our newest campus this year as Guest Speakers to share their advice with NYFA Mumbai students.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Sana Saeed

    TODAYYY ❤️ @newyorkfilmacademy #NYFAMumbai #letstogethermakethisyearcount

    A post shared by Sana Saeed (@sanaofficial) on

    It’s always a special occasion when a NYFA alum returns to their alma mater as a Guest Speaker, and NYFA Mumbai recently welcomed NYFA Acting for Film alum and child star Sana Saeed. Sharing a joyous evening with a packed house of students, Saeed spoke especially to the new class of NYFA Mumbai teen camp attendees in sharing her experiences as a child actor in Bollywood.

    As a child, Saeed played megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter in the romantic epic Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and was re-cast by same director Karan Johar 20 years later!

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Arya Babbar

    Noted actor Arya Babber is currently studying at NYFA Mumbai, taking a Filmmaking course to expand his already impressive repertoire. Well known in Punjabi film industry, Babber was nominated as the Most Promising Newcomer in 2002.

    Babber has also had crossover success in Bollywood, where he is one of the best known Punjabi actors; he has acted in 25 feature films in 16 years. So far, he’s been very open on social media about how much he is loving his time at NYFA Mumbai.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty

    #Canneslions finalist, #Promaxasia and #Goaabbey Winner, Ad film director Sanjay Shetty is coming to #NYFAMumbai for a Q&A with our students #NYFA #Acting #Filmmaking #workshop #Mumbai

    A post shared by New York Film Academy Mumbai (@nyfamumbai) on


    Founder, Director at Opticus INC, recent NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty has over two decades of experience as a director at Ad-Films. During his time at Ad-Films, Shetty was a finalist at the Cannes Lions Festival, one of the most prominent and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. He has been recognized for his work at Promax-Asia Advertising Awards & Goa Abbey Awards.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya

    Join us Wednesday, 9th May at @nyfamumbai for a Live discussion with Sandeep Shandilya. RSVP is required to attend this event. Reserve your spot at: Neha.chaudhary@nyfa.edu or call : +91 22 61280000

    A post shared by New York Film Academy Mumbai (@nyfamumbai) on


    With over 17 years of experience as a producer, from feature films to ads, for the past eight years NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya has executive-produced such Bollywood hits as Love Story 2050, 1920 London, and TV series 24:India. As a producer, he has worked all over India and internationally, from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Bangkok to Dubai, Paris, Switzerland, and much more.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Tharun Bhascker


    NYFA alum Tharun Bhascker attended NYFA’s intensive 4-week Filmmaking Program in Mumbai in 2011, even before NYFA established its permanent campus at the Urmi Estate. He’s recently directed his second feature hit, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, which follows the major success of his first feature, #Pellichoopulu.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre

    #Bahubali #Vedam Actor and #NYFA Alumni Rakesh Varre is coming to #NYFAMumbai for a Q&A with our Students #Acting #Filmmaking #Workshop #Mumbai @rakeshvarre

    A post shared by New York Film Academy Mumbai (@nyfamumbai) on


    NYFA Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre is an Acting for Film, Filmmaking, and Screenwriting New York Film Academy alumnus. He is best known for for Baahubali: The Beginning, and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, where he played Setu Patti, and Vedam.

    Bahubali 2: The Conclusion was released in April 2017 and quickly became the highest-grossing film in India, grossing $82.8 million in five days.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Seher Latif

    #Furious7 #ZeroDarkThirty Casting Director Seher Latif is coming to #NYFAMumbai for a Q & A with our students May 30th, 4pm ???

    A post shared by New York Film Academy Mumbai (@nyfamumbai) on


    Seher Latif is a Casting Director and CSA member who has had success in both the American and Indian film industries. Her credits include Zero Dark Thirty, Furious 7, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Eat Pray Love. Her Bollywood credits include The Lunch Box, and Monsoon Shootout.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Warina Hussain


    Warina Hussain is a model and actress of Afghani-Iraqi descent, who attended the New York Film Academy’s Mumbai campus in 2017 to study Acting for Film. She is currently filming the lead role in Salman Khan’s Loverati, in which she will star alongside Khan’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma, in his acting debut.

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  • Next Generation of Indywood’s Storytellers Train at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy has attracted many aspiring artists with its intensive, hands-on approach to teaching the skills of filmmaking and the performing arts. It’s also caught of the eye of many established artists and celebrities, who then encourage their own friends and family to attend NYFA’s programs and workshops. 

It’s no surprise then that many of NYFA’s alumni have close relationships to famous personalities from Hollywood and Indywood alike. This next generation of performers and storytellers are quickly making a name for themselves in their own right, working hard and using the skills they acquired at the New York Film Academy. Here are just a few of our up-and-coming alumni from India:

    Imran Khan (nephew of Aamir Khan and Mansoor Khan; grandson of Nasir Hussain):

    Imran Khan


    Imran Khan took the 1-Year Acting Conservatory at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus in 2004 before winning a Filmfare Award for his debut in “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na.” He has also starred in commercial hits “I Hate Luv Storys,” “Delhi Belly,” and “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.” Imran’s uncle is Aamir Khan, one of India’s most popular award-winning artists, a wildly successful and talented actor, producer, director, singer, television talk show host, activist, and philanthropist. Imran is also the nephew of producer and director Mansoor Khan and grandson of director, producer, and legendary screenwriter Nasir Hussain.

     

    Krish J. Sathaar (son of Jayabharathi and Sathaar)

    Krish Sathaar


    Krish J. Sathaar studied in the 1-Year Acting Conservatory art NYFA’s New York campus before starting his career as an award-winning actor. After his 2011 graduation, Krish debuted in “Ladies and Gentlemen,” starring Mohanlal. He followed that up with “Malini 22 Palayamkottai” and “To Noora with Love,” and has also acted in the video game adaptation short “Halo: Helljumper.” Krish’s acting career with no surprise to his family–both his parents are stars in India. His father, Sathaar, has acted in nearly 300 films, including “Adiyozhukkukal,” “Sarapanjaram,” “Lava,” and “Samrajyam” Krish’s mother, Jayabharathi, has won two State Film Awards and a National Film Award, and has starred in many films, including “Rathinirvedam,” “Prathikaaram,” and “Madhavikutty.”

    



    Athiya Shetty (daughter of Sunil Shetty)

    Athiya Shetty

     

    Athiya enrolled in the 1-Year Acting Conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2011. In addition to being featured in Indian editions of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and Verve, Athiya starred in the Bollywood romantic action film “Hero.” For her role she was nominated for a Filmfare Award and won the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Award. She also became the brand ambassador for Maybelline New York’s India franchise. Her father, Sunil Shetty, is a Bollywood action star who has acted in over 110 films, including “Balwaan,” “Dhadkan,” “Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat,” “Sapoot,” “Main Hoon Na,” and “Red Alert: The War Within.”

     

    Pannaga Bharana (son of T.S. Nagabharna)

    Pannaga Bharana

    Pannaga attended the 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2008 and has directed two feature length films: 2017’s anthology drama “Happy New Year” and “Maduve Impossible,” an upcoming movie set for a 2018 release. Pannaga’s father is T.S. Nagabharana, a renounced director in the Kannada film industry and a pioneer in the Parallel Cinema movement. With both success in film and TV, he has received numerous accolades, including nine National and 14 State awards.

    Naga Chaitanya (son of Akkieni Nagarjuna)

    Naga Chaitanya

    Naga took an Acting For Film workshop at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in 2007 and has since gone on to both commercial and critical success. His credits include “100% Love,” “Dhada,” “Bejawada,” Autonagar Surya,” and two of the most successful Bollywood films of 2016, “Premam” and “Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo.” His highest grossing film to date is the 2017 film “Rarandoi Veduka Chudham.” Naga’s father, Akkieni Nagarjuna, has starred in over 90 films including “Geetanjali” and “Shiva,” and has won nine state Nandi Awards, three Filmfare Awards South, and a National Film Award-Special Mention.

     

     

     

    Karan Raj Kanwar (son of Raj Kanwar)

    Karan Raj Kanwar

    Karan Raj Kanwar enrolled in both 1-Year Filmmaking and 1-Year Producing at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus and is now recognized as one of India’s youngest leading producers. He currently heads the production company Inderjit Films Combine. His father, Raj Kanwar, was a Bollywood filmmaker based in Mumbai who directed the hit film “Deewana,” as well as “Laadla,” “Jaan,” “Daag: The Fire,” and “Badal.”

     

     

    These are just six notable alumni from the New York Film Academy, part of a group that expands with every new program and workshop. Other alumni from India with illustrious family backgrounds whose careers are now coming into their own include:

    Tisha Mehra (niece of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra)
    Aadar Jain (cousin of Ranbir Kapoor)
    Bilal Amrohi (grandson of Kamal Amrohi)
    Armaan Jain (grandson of Raj Kapoor)
    Umeshy Chakraborty (son of Mithun Chakraborty)
    Dishani Chakraborty (daughter of Mithun Chakraborty)
    Nara Rohit (cousin of Nara Lokesh)
    Suhana Khan (daughter of Shah Rukh Khan)
    Ananya Panday (daughter of Suyah “Chunky” Pandey)
    Aalia Furniturewalla (daughter of Pooja Bedi)
    Devansh Shukla (son of Umesh Shukla)

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    December 12, 2017 • Diversity, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3431

  • NYFA Mumbai Hosts Master Class With Co-Chair of Filmmaking and Virtual Reality Jonathan Whittaker

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    With an eye to the increasing opportunities for collaboration between major international film markets, the New York Film Academy Mumbai held a three-hour master class bridging the filmmaking styles of the American and Bollywood industries. The Foundations of Filmmaking Master Class was led by filmmaker, producer, director, and NYFA Co-Chair of Filmmaking and Virtual Reality Jonathan Whittaker.

    Jonathan Whittaker is an educator and media production professional whose credits include “In the Loop,” “Louie,” “Trophy Wife,” and a four-piece Venus by Gillette campaign with Chrissy Teigan. He has created a 3D special for Sony Pictures, directed commercials for Nissan and Hyundai, and produced two feature films: “My Name is David” and “America Here We Come.” His collaborators and clients include Nissan, Sony Pictures, FILM.UA, DirecTV, MiSK, Gillette, Hyundai and Sports Illustrated. 

    In describing the workshop, Mr. Whittaker explained, “Students explore new skills for directors, actors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and producers, expanding their vocabulary for collaboration and storytelling. This is a wonderful way to learn more about American-style filmmaking and open new possibilities for collaboration between the U.S. and Indian film industries.”

    Opportunities for cooperation and exchanges between the Indian and U.S. film industries are now at an unprecedented level, with Bollywood films like “Baahubali: The Conclusion” breaking international box office records and Paramount announcing that it will distribute a Bollywood film for the first time. (“Padmavati,” will be released worldwide alongside the film’s Dec. 1 opening in India.)

    NYFA alumnus Rakesh Varre, who played Setu Patti in “Baahubali: The Conclusion,” has given credit to his education at NYFA for his recent acting success: “Taking that experience from NYFA, I was able to act as a major supporting role in ‘Baahubali.’”

    While the New York Film Academy (NYFA) has held workshops in India for many years, it opened its doors to a permanent location in Mumbai, India, in May 2017, bridging two of the world’s largest filmmaking industries.

    The New York Film Academy’s Mumbai, India location holds film and acting programs at the Urmi Estate, a modern 41 story skyscraper located in the heart of the city. 

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  • NYFA Student Rekha Rana Stars in Hit Bollywood Film

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    Rekha Rana

    Rekha Rana

    Students gathered in New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles theater to screen the hit Bollywood film Tara: The Journey of Love and Passion and participate in a Q&A with the movie’s star, Rekha Rana—who is currently studying acting at the New York Film Academy—and director/producer Kumar Raj. The discussion was moderated by NYFA LA’s Events Manager and directing instructor Robert Cosnahan.

    Tara: The Journey of Love and Passion is an epic saga about an illiterate Indian gypsy woman, brewing liquor illegally to survive, who after being accused of adultery by her husband when she becomes pregnant, is faced with a choice — be a victim of patriarchal society or take her life into her own hands. The film has a strong, positive, and refreshing message of female empowerment. The movie paints a gut-wrenching portrait of life’s hardships, especially for women, in the poorest areas of Indian. The film played for an astounding 52 weeks in a 650 seat theater in India and has received over 40 awards worldwide in many International Film Festivals.

    Rekha Rana holds nothing back in her portrayal of Tara, a woman forced to deal with life’s most trying of circumstances. It’s impossible to not feel her anguish as despair thunders through her, or to feel hope when her radiant smile lights up the screen. She was rewarded recently for her outstanding performance in Tara when she received the Best Actress award at San Francisco’s Festival of Globe Film Festival.

    Rekha gave alot of praise for NYFA’s acting program, stating that it has improved her performance skills immensely. She can’t wait to apply what she’s learned here in future Bollywood and U.S. films. Rekha said that NYFA is “one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

    After the event, director/producer Kumar Raj graciously donated a copy of Tara to NYFA’s library. Rekha is currently working on her upcoming film Yahan Ameena Bikti Hai also produced and directed by Kumar Raj.

    Rekha Rana is a Bollywood actress, theater artist, and winner of the Miss Delhi, Photogenic Face and Beautiful Smile title in 2007. She is the brand ambassador for a South African NGO, ‘Star NGO,’ and the ‘Save Our Women’ Campaign.’ Her first movie, Ab Hoga Dharna Unlimited, which is inspired by Anna Hazare’s Dharna, was released on April 13th, 2012. Rekha won the Best Actress Award at the Singapore Film Festival in 2010 for her performance in a short film called Take Care. She has performed over 200 stage shows worldwide. As she is interested in humanity work, she has joined women’s helmet promotion, started on March 8th, 2010, at International Women’s Day to make awareness among women wearing helmets.

    rehka bollywood

    Rekha Rana with director/producer Kumar Raj (photo by Drew Hughes)

    Kumar Raj started his career in the shipping industry and is an arbitrator in the India and London Council of Arbitration. He was inspired to begin working in the Indian Film Industry (also known as Bollywood) 6 years ago because his intense passion and love for cinema. In these 6 years, he has made four films, his latest being Tara.

    We sincerely thank Rekha Rana and Kumar Raj for screening their wonderful film at the New York Film Academy and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors!

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    August 19, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 10139

  • NYFA Grad Rohit Gupta Honored by the Limca Book of Records

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    Rohit and Ravi

    Rohit (Left) and Ravi Kumar (Right)

    Acclaimed filmmaker and New York Film Academy graduate, Rohit Gupta has been honored by India’s renowned Limca Book of Records for his award-winning feature film Life! Camera! Action. The film sets a new record being the first full-length motion picture shot by a two-person crew: producer/director Rohit Gupta & Ravi Kumar R. It is also the first film to be released via facebook.

    LCA Movie PosterSince its release, Life! Camera! Action has received wide critical acclaim, earning over seventy international accolades in various categories including the prestigious Top Nine Most Popular and Board of Directors’ Special Awards, 28th Goldie Film Awards (USA), Orson Welles Award-California International Film Awards, Royal Reel Award-Canada International Film Festival, Grand Jury Award-Oregon Film Awards (USA), Best Feature Film-IFFPIE (Official World Peace Film Festival) (Indonesia) and many others around the world. Renowned news producer Silicon India listed the film as One of the 10 Outstanding Movies by Indian American Filmmakers. The list includes Hollywood blockbusters such as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable by M. Night Shyamalan, Mississippi Masala and Namesake by Mira Nair, and Fire and Earth by Deepa Mehta.

    This inspiring ninety-minute quasi-autobiographical family drama features the struggle of the protagonist Reina – played by award winning actress Dipti Mehta – who sets off on a career in filmmaking against parental consent. Running the risk of being disowned for going against the norm of pursuing a future in engineering, medicine or architecture, the film celebrates the strength of the central character to challenge the rules regardless of the consequences.

    Gupta’s journey and the process of his work is widely considered a major source of inspiration to aspiring filmmakers, students of cinema and youth at large the world over. Gupta who has co-written, produced, directed, edited, written lyrics, shared credits in music and photography, marketed, branded and distributed his work, commented that, “It has been a marvelous journey and the road ahead looks equally interesting.”

    Rohit first forayed into films with a four-minute American suspense-thriller film, Another Day Another Life, which also received tremendous acclaim from around the world including an Official Selection at Cannes in 2009. He is currently working on the post-production of his highly anticipated upcoming American comedy feature titled Midnight Delight, due for release in 2014.

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  • From Hollywood to Bollywood

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    Originally from Kolkata, India, Sharad Malhotra took an early interest in sports. He played soccer and cricket as a child. He went on to play professionally for the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). He also spent some time working as a financial advisor. He hadn’t really considered a life on the silver screen, but at his girlfriend’s suggestion, Sharad got in contact with scouts from Zee TV, a leading entertainment channel in India — a choice changed the course of his life.

    After getting good feedback and support from Zee TV, Sharad moved to Mumbai where he began going on auditions. He modeled for a number of national and international print campaigns before landing a leading role on Banoo Main Teri Dulhann, a wildly popular Indian soap opera.

    He won several Best Actor awards for his work on the television show, but Sharad says, “I was hungry to learn more and better the craft. So as soon as my show ended, I headed toward the mecca of acting and filmmaking.” Impressed by New York Film Academy’s list of notable grads (including Paul Dano and Owen Kline, and Bollywood actors Imran Khan and Ahana Deol), Sharad decided to move from the west coast of India to the west coast of America, to attend the school’s Los Angeles campus.

    “It was a beautiful amalgamation of students of different… creeds, color, religions, nationalities, all coming under one roof with their own unique creative abilities and bonding over a common passion called cinema,” he says. “As we say in India, NYFA is a complete paisa wasool — worth every penny!”

    Since completing an Acting for Film program in 2009, Sharad has been busy at work in Mumbai. He recently completed his first Bollywood feature film, From Sydney With Love – the story of a small town girl from West Bengal who finds a new love and a new life while attending school in Australia. Sharad is looking forward to the Indian premiere of From Sydney With Love on August 31. The buzz about the film has already led to interest from film directors looking to book him for future projects.

    Sharad describes his journey as, “nothing short of a beautiful roller coaster ride…. It helped me mature as a person and made me realize that the essential five ingredients that are solely responsible for fulfilling dreams: patience, hard work, determination, belief, and finally the luck factor to put it all in place. From a cricketer to a financial advisor to a model and now an actor, it’s been one helluva fun trip.”

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  • Bollywood’s Sex and the City

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    Shailja Gupta frames a shot on set

    Photo from The Hindu

    Kalkata native, Shailja Gupta set her dreams early on in life with the goal of making her own films. After attending the New York Film Academy‘s film school in 2009, Shailja set out to do just that. Initially, she became involved in the international marketing of films such as Chokher Bali and Ra.One. As good as that sounds, Shailja still wasn’t creating her own films. That’s why she switched gears to work on her feature debut, Walkaway, a light-comedy drama that mocks the clutches of social obligations on young Indian professionals settled in New York City.

    Like many first time filmmakers, Shailja had trouble finding the right distributors to pick up her film. So, she took matters into her own hands. “I had hoped to release it theatrically but after chasing the distributors for a year, I got tired and gave up. I was hoping to show it on television but with such competition it’s difficult to get people to watch the film. I hope through word-of-mouth something good comes out of it.”

    “It’s exciting. Sure, I do feel overwhelmed when I take on more work sometimes and have to run against time to deliver. But once I complete the work the feeling of achievement is quite satisfactory.”

    Indeed, Shailja should feel excited and proud of her accomplishment. Her film, Walkaway, has received some rather kind words from the press:

    • “More earnest and insightful than Sex and the City.” – NY Magazine
    • “A little Bollywood, a lot American Indie.” – NY Times
    • “Filmmaker Shailja Gupta has a sure hand and eye.” – Newsweek
    Shailja is currently working on scripts for two more comedies, which she hopes will see their way to mainstream Bollywood.
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  • The New York Film Academy & India’s Bollywood

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    India’s film industry, colloquially known as Bollywood, is the biggest in the world, and aspiring Indian filmmakers need an edge, (or a connection), in order to get a leg up in the business. The New York Film Academy’s own Vice President of International Relations recently visited the country to meet with aspiring filmmakers. She had some interesting comments about what it takes to get recognized in the industry.

    India has huge potential in the area of education in filmmaking and acting. Last year we saw over 100 students signing up at our institute and the number is slated to grow further as more and more students realize the importance of technical know-how in this space.

    NYFA has already produced Bollywood successes. Imran Khan, currently one of the biggest stars in Bollywood, is one of our alumns. So the question remains, is NYFA going to start a school in India? Our Vice President admitted that the New York Film Academy is open to expanding in the country.

    It will, however, be in the long-term, we have only just begun an active association with India, and yes, we do not rule out the possibility of a branch or some sort of joint venture here in the future.

    The response from young filmmakers in India has been great, and no one can deny that there is a lot of passion for film in the country. Hopefully, NYFA’s involvement with Bollywood will continue to grow stronger, and we will have the opportunity of working with more and more students from India!

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    July 9, 2010 • Acting • Views: 7829