Life After Ashoka: Gia Singh Arora
From Literature and Performing Arts at Ashoka University to Filmmaking
I did not know I could express everything I wanted to say. Was there even a word for it, a body posture or a camera angle through which I could show myself? I was not sure. Literature and Performance at Ashoka University taught me more about film, as a medium of expression, than I ever thought was remotely possible. I guess that is the beauty of studying the liberal arts.
Literature and Performing Arts gave me a platform to express myself, but since I never studied the art of filmmaking, I knew I had to find my own style. I’m still finding a cinematic language of my own, not in reading cinema or writing it but in the act of practicing it.
Last week, I finished my first film-based internship at a boutique film production company in Mumbai, the city of dreams. Every day I travelled on the local train from Andheri to Churchgate. Just like travelling from Delhi to Jahangirpuri, Jahangirpuri to Asawarpur, my commute from the Mumbai suburbs to what we millennials like to call “Sobo” (South Bombay), was like journeying through changing worlds and perspectives.
On the locals, I spent my time observing different women — sad women, women in love, working women, women networking, women searching for caretakers, women reading, women fighting for space, women looking out of the window, women on the phone with their boyfriends, and women crying. I found inspiration on the local train, and it motivated me to make a film about women in trains.
Inspiration is everywhere and every day a new film takes shape in me. But, it remains a figment of my imagination and never reaches fruition because I’ve realized that I have commitment issues (true millennial dilemma), not only towards others but even to my own self.
In order to resolve my commitment phobia, I decided not to look for work for three months. I needed to work for myself without anyone pushing me, so I could create my own mental workspace.
Right now, I may be just a silly person trying to make her passion, her livelihood. But the truth is, at the end of the day, I genuinely feel like that is all I have — a desire to create. If I do not practice my passion, I honestly could do nothing else. There is no Plan B. So, I’m all the more focussed on finding and constructing my own path, and learning not to shy away, but to commit to my own words and dreams.
All I know is I’m living on a train, in a continuous mode of transit, with changing perspectives and an evolving self, and whether it be Ashoka or Mumbai, I’m moving.