Aayush: Working in ‘Mom’ is a dream come true!

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Aayush Agarwal is on a roll, after bagging a role in the latest Sridevi starrer Mom. Now that the movie has released, his role has been appreciated. A Film and Media student (specializing in Advertising and Digital Marketing) of AISFM, Aayush talks to us about his role in Mom and describes it as “One of the happiest moments of my life”. In our tête-à-tête, he shares that he feels lucky to be working with legends in Mom. Read on to find out what this young actor has to say about his foray into Bollywood and much more!

How did your role happen in Mom?
I auditioned at the most renowned casting company in Bollywood i.e. Mukesh Chhabra Casting Company that has casted for films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Dangal, Chennai Express, PK etc.

How did you feel when you realized you bagged a role in this movie?
Bollywood has always been where I wanted to be and I certainly felt and still feel blessed to have this on my plate luckily at a young age, where being in Hyderabad didn’t become the kind of barrier it would have been a few years earlier. There is a lot of gratitude and extreme sense of pleasure to be associated with a film of this magnitude with legends on board.

How did this movie compare to your other past work in your life?
Well, all work has its own importance and value and you value whatever comes your way at that given time and then you join the dots as you look back. I have been a part of Drushyam and 24 earlier when it comes to feature films and they’re as special to me as Mom is.

How did your family feel about role in this movie?
Probably every one out of two people know Sridevi and we have all seen her films and grown up. I can say this for myself and for the generation before me. Both my parents have been fans of Sri Ma’am and when they found out that their son would not only meet her, but work with her and share screen space with her, I guess their happiness had no bounds and at my end, I only hope and wish I try and make them proud with whatever little I can do.

How will you enjoy your accomplishments in this movie?
I have enjoyed the process of the movie and that is more important to me. As far as accomplishments of the movie are concerned, it is most definitely one of the best teamwork I’ve seen on set. I remember that after the premiere, there were wonderful reviews and we celebrated by dancing our way off for the fact that we finished the film.

How did you feel at the end of the day working for such a movie like Mom?
You never want journeys like these to end, because they’re your dream turned into reality where you are in the same space as veterans of the industry, in the kind of atmosphere where you’ve met alike people and made friends for life. The last day is obviously very heavy. But, it only ends one journey with hopefully many more to come, and doesn’t end any relationship.

How do you think others see you as a professional at this young age?
I am unaware if others see me as a professional or not, but I just hope some manage to notice the passion that runs within because I am a firm believer that persistence always wins over intelligence.

How do you see yourself now and five years later?
I do not know, and I am glad that I don’t know. I’d like to take one step at a time and would rather be efficient in what comes my way to be the best in that moment in terms of what I can deliver. If I manage to do this well, I’m certain that five years down the line would be a sweet spot.

How do you want others to see you as a professional?
Effective, Efficient and Deserving.

What was the happiest moment that you encountered while working on this movie and why?
I was on board as soon as I received the confirmation call from the casting company that I have been locked for the character Rishi. And that, I think was the most happiest moment for the fact that I knew I had my first Bollywood role falling in place, and the scale of it was huge.

Suthapalli Devi, Scaling New Heights!

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Suthapalli Devi, our BFA (Animation + VFX) student, has conquered the first of her many dreams and gigantic summits. Devi who was on an Everest Expedition reached the Everest Base Camp successfully and is back in Hyderabad.

So, how was the experience of reaching the base camp, how did she prepare for this expedition; what were her fitness routines and diet, how did she get the thought of going for this expedition, what did her parents, friends and family have to say before the expedition and after the expedition et al….these were a few questions that we had to ask her once she returned successfully from her expedition. Here she talks to us, in her own words, sharing complete details of the expedition, starting from leaving Hyderabad and reaching Hyderabad, the toughest part of the expedition for her, which of the 3 passes was the most difficult for her, was it more challenging physically or mentally and more! Read on to find out what she has to say!

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Well, to start with, this was my first expedition and one of the best experiences ever. I am in love with all the memories. It was peaceful over there, where you could see and experience nature firsthand.

The temperature was -8 degrees which was a bit difficult for me to and so was the trek. It was 60 percent steep and oxygen levels were 50 percent lesser than the normal range. But the scenic views after reaching the view points and summits are really awesome. All the hard work paid off!

The main part of this trek is the 3-way pass where you need to climb three mountains to reach Everest Base Camp and this is the toughest route to reach Everest Base Camp. I chose this because it is challenging for me. There were a few times when I wanted to give up but I didn’t because I wanted to complete this challenge because no Indian girl till today could complete this expedition and I didn’t want to be in that list. I wanted to be different from them and so I completed it.

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I didn’t find it very difficult while climbing; however I found it scary while climbing down. I am very scared of heights and water. There is one pass which is 5,675m and I was supposed to climb this mountain and go onto the other side. The climbing was easy for me and I reached the summit in 45 minutes, much before the expected time. I was enjoying the beautiful view all around. That place was really awesome. Then it was time for us to head down to the tea houses. The way back was very steep, the path was very slippery and on the other side there was heavy snowfall; added to this was a lake just beside the mountain. Any wrong step and we would directly fall into the lake. I managed to climb down somehow with the help of the guide and the porter. This is one experience which scared me to death!!!

As I am into fitness and a healthy life style, I didn’t prepare much for the trek. I just made sure that my endurance levels were good because endurance is the key point to complete this trek. Coming to diet, I always eat healthy food so I didn’t make any changes in my diet also. I don’t follow a strict diet but I make sure that my calorie intake is not beyond my daily limit.

Last year I went for Mount Everest Climbing Selections which was conducted by the state government. Here if you get selected they will train you and take care of all the expenses. I actually got selected in that and had the opportunity to go till the Summit, but I was asked to attend three months training plus two months climbing time which is equal to one semester in college. I couldn’t dedicate that much time and so gave it up. Later on through Facebook advertisements I came to know about Everest Base Camp expeditions. Since we have a summer break in college for one month I wanted to use the time productively and make it worthwhile, so I went on this expedition. I went with an agency called Adventure Nation, which organises Himalaya treks and adventure sports.

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It was all exciting starting from Hyderabad; but I also had some fears like whether I could adjust to the climate, will I be able to complete it or not? And I was travelling alone for the first time. The trek path was with many ups and downs and the walking part was a bit difficult for me because I am not a long runner. I always go for short sprints even in my game. So for the first few days it was difficult for me to walk but later on I got used to the climate, people, incline and everything else.

The best part of the trek was that I met many people and could interact with them. I realised that there is a lot to see and learn in life. I actually saw what life is. It’s true that you can only see real life when you come out of your comfort zone. Now I can say that I have friends in many parts of the world.

The total trek was for 25 days; I stayed back in Kathmandu for two more days and went for a city tour and learnt a few things about their culture and lifestyle. I finally came back to Hyderabad after that. The funniest part is that I am not able to handle this heat. Lol! J I just need some time to recover.

Initially, it was a bit difficult for me to convince my parents but my mom was very supportive of my decision. She always trusts me which I would keep up for sure. My dad was worried about my security but later on he too managed to convince himself and gave me a send off with a smile on his face. He made sure that I have a safe journey. My friends too supported and encouraged me for this. Coming to public and relatives, they are always the first ones to discourage you and pull you back, but I don’t care at all. My parents’ words and decisions only matter to me, so when they were happy with my decision I went on this expedition.

It was challenging for me, only mentally. I always feel I’m physically strong but not mentally. Maybe I should start exercising to become strong from inside too.

Now I want to complete all the seven summits in the world and I am planning to go to Kilimanjaro in South Africa next May.

A post apocalyptic road drama

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He has his aim set high, with a bag of short films already to his credit! Pursuing his passion and making his dreams come true is Athul Prabhakaran, Bachelors in Fine Arts student of AISFM. The ardent filmmaker made his first film with a webcam even before he hit his teens and has worked as a writer, director and editor for his nine short films in three languages. All set to make his 10th project, a post apocalyptic road drama called ‘Zaman’, through crowd-funding, he is all gung-ho about starting the shoot soon.

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Here it is in Athul’s own words about how the whole experience has been; from ideation to jotting it down on paper to bringing the team together to crowd funding to scouting for locations to finally getting ready to start the shoot!

The initial idea for Zaman came to me five years ago, when I was trying to justify a script with as minimal number of actors within a story that judged the existence of God in a world devoid of humans. I didn’t shoot it then for various reasons, and I’ve constantly been revisiting the idea, adding something valuable every time I do so.

Last summer, a friend and I were brainstorming for an idea after scrapping a sci-fi project that we were planning for months. I pitched Zaman to him, and he loved the idea. We spent the rest of the day structuring the story that would serve as the backbone to the film being made.

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“The film begins with Tawhid, a survivor who has seen the world crumble. A widower traumatised by losing his wife to the catastrophe. Tawhid is threatening to take his life and then a mysterious radio broadcast from a small community calling themselves “The Farm” plays. They claim to have resourced electricity and food. The film follows his quest to survive in a world devoid of normalcy that traces his transformation in the face of adversity. On this journey he encounters a 60 year old woman, her dog and a few other survivors who make for an eventful and thought provoking road drama, which all ends with a shocking twist.”

After college reopened, I pitched it to my fellow collaborators at AISFM. Everyone seemed to love the idea and this prompted me to start out on the screenplay. Zaman was co-written with Isha Thota, with whom I share writing credits on one other film, Take Your Gangster to Work.

As the screenplay took shape, it was very clear that everything was obviously on a much larger scale, a lot of things that we took for granted in a smaller shoot, in terms of times taken to say – complete a script, or even lock on the camera, took much longer than anticipated.

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Earlier short films were made on a much smaller budget – where the biggest argument about “investment” was who’s going to buy the batteries for the Zoom recorder. On Zaman it was a whole different ball game, so from what started out as a film that would require a minimal use of actors, grew into something that needed Rs. 5 lakhs to be effectively realised the way we envisioned.

Zaman will be photographed by Akash Subramanian, my first roommate, a genius of a friend and a brilliant collaborator who has a good eye for framing. The next person who is a very important part of the film actually helped me write the treatment of the film that I paraded around to certain members of the faculty and potential collaborators. Ashwin Rajashekar. My sound designer.

The film was crowd-funded on fueladream.com, where it was funded a 123%, which means we overshot our target goal. I’d really like to thank all my funders, a lot of people really pulled together – friends family, and some unknown philanthropists. Many of which were out of the blue, the support has really been overwhelming.  This got us a lot of publicity, where we were featured in three newspapers – The Better India, Hans India and The Indian Express. This really helped with the additional funding and really created some good buzz around the film. And yes, it was also very flattering.

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Zaman is my first major short film in terms of vision, filmmaking and storytelling. It will be shot in the last two weeks of December and a short second schedule in January to finish post production for an April screening at AISFM’s Student Theatre, something that the AISFM management was very helpful and eager about.

Crew:
Director – Athul Prabhakaran
Chief Assistant Director – Shivam Sinha
Original story – Athul Prabhakaran, SJ Nitesh Sabharish and Isha Thota
Screenwriters – Athul Prabhakaran and Isha thota
Cinematographer – Akash Subramanian
Associate Cinematographer – Abhipsa Sahoo
Gaffer – Sreyash Myneni
Sound Designer – Ashwin Rajashekar
Assistant Sound – Joshua Thakur
Production Designers – Mahesh Rambhatla and Nidhi Kohlatkar
Line Producer – S. Venkat Narayana Murthy
Production Assistant – Sasmit Parkhe
Crowdfunding and PR Manager – Preksha Trivedi

Take a look at Athul’s pre-production video for Zaman: http://bit.ly/2g70Rwf

‘My first Bollywood’ – by Aayush Agarwal

Aayush Agarwal on his Bollywood break
One fine morning I woke up to eventually find out that I was going to get a call from Mukesh Chhabbra, which could only mean one thing; I was one step closer to my dream – ‘Check.’ I was going to be a part of the next Boney Kapoor film, MOM, starring Sridevi, Akshaye Khanna & Nawazuddin Siddique. Woah! Hold on a minute; what?

That moment, that very feeling after I hung up on the call, where I was informed that I’ve been locked for a character role in the film was pure magic! It was a privilege to be on a set of such scale and I value each and every moment of it. I wanted to do justice and give my 100% for not just this project, but for whatever else I will be having in my bag in the future. I shall keep working hard and get going with my journey.

Little did I know that randomly auditioning online could actually work! As each round passed it got me more excited and I was happily surprised to finally end up in a vanity with costume and make up, ready and waiting to be called for my first shot for my first Bollywood film! After having collected the experience of working in the film Drushyam and with the 24 team, it made me value this experience more and had me in a constant attempt to try doing things right, learning from my previous mistakes and discovering new, unbelievably interesting things along the way. To have the opportunity to not only meet but also share screen-space with a star like Sridevi is an amazing thing by itself. I felt chills when I spoke to her for the first time!

The experience that one can gain from working on a film set is huge, and with a director like Ravi Udyawar, who again is a master of what he does, this ‘experience gaining’ is taken to a whole new level. There were other very talented persons and a very happening crew that never let me get bored on set. Even during my previous experiences of being a part of films, I realize each time, not only how interesting film making is, but also how tough it is and what kind of passion it requires to make!

I don’t want to sound very diplomatic and say that this is my calling; all I know for sure, is that I am in a happy place when I work in this field and this only makes me want to do it even more. Things are falling in place for me, I would say, with luck being in my favour and would like things to be this way while I continue working hard and doing my role (pun intended).

Make your resume stand out, here’s how!

Your resume is the face of all your hard work that you have put in, in your life and is the most important tool when applying for a job. It does not matter how qualified you are or how much experience you have, if your resume is not written the right way, then you will have trouble getting the job you want or for starters even an interview!

You should make the time and work on your resume, because it is what will make a great impression. The reason being that employers tend not to spend enough time looking at any resume since they have many resumes to skim through and very often make their assessment in less than a minute. Which is why smart job seekers spend a lot of time perfecting their resume to strike the perfect balance; where you put enough information to prove that you are qualified, but you don’t want to bore the hiring manager with pages of useless bullet points and details.

We offer some tips and advice on how to make your resume the best it can be, make you stand out and land you that crucial interview.

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  • Keep it concise
    A good piece of resume-writing advice is to ensure to keep it to a single page. A senior-level applicant can go beyond this standard length. Less is more because why have two pages when you can have one? Why do you want to say it in 15 bullet points when you can say the same in 10?  Write clear, concise sentences that are to the point and save the details for the interview. Whether your resume is being reviewed by a recruiter, team lead, manager or the CEO, they need to be able to skim through it and get the gist of it right away, in a minute. 
  • Update with social profiles
    Social media is the in thing and it’s a known fact that many managers search for candidates online. You can include URLs of your LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog. This will show that you have a good network and are familiar with the current marketing and communications practices. 
  • Your side projects
    Even if you are working on side projects completely unrelated to the full-time job that you are seeking, it is a good idea to include it on your resume; and especially if you are working on a project that could be indirectly related to the full-time job that you want. It is a great way to show employers that you are using your own time to acquire and grow skills outside the job that will help you develop and contribute in the long run. Not just that, when you write about an experience, mention the success that you achieved in that role.
  • All employment details
    Always include all details of all previous employments, since gaps in the resume do not give a professional picture of you; name the previous employers and the time frame in which you worked for them. It will help get a sense of whether your experience is with large or small employers as well as the industries with which you are familiar with and give a snapshot of the chronology of types of companies to get a read on potential performance. List even the trivial ones; they may still help you get a job.
  • Rewards & Recognition
    When you are good at something and have been recognized for it, then there is every reason for you to brag about it. So, if you have won any awards for your work in your field or been officially recognized by industry organizations then list these accomplishments, since it is one thing that employers look out for as proof that a candidate is talented. This holds good for not just a talent that is directly relevant to the job at hand but it’s also true for applicants who have competed at a high level in other areas like representing your school or state in sports.

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  • Your skill sets
    What are the most relevant experiences and skills for the job you are applying for? The most effective applicant resumes are those that are aimed towards the requirements for a specific job. Understand what the niche sector that you want to get into requires and focus on it. If you are not able to make a final decision just yet then you can pick a broad area or several goals for employment and make few versions of your resume, depending on the job you are applying for.
  • Showcase leadership skills
    Employers will value leadership skills, so make sure to include information about motivating, training, leading, recruiting and organizing your peers while taking part in a certain co-curricular activity. Not all students can have leadership skills, so you should be proud of such accomplishments and make sure to include them in your resume.
  • Give value to community service
    Top bosses will appreciate the fact that you took part in community service. These types of activities indicate that you are a mature person who is willing to give without expecting anything in return and keen on making a difference too.
  • Share samples of your work
    Your resume will be worthless if it does not make employers seek more information about you and your work. So, showcase recommendations and samples of your work. Make sure it has in-depth and comprehensive synopsis of you, your knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • Review and revise
    If you want your resume to end up being perfect, you will have to review it obsessively to the point that you are satisfied. You cannot allow any grammar or spelling mistakes to go by unnoticed under your radar. And do not be afraid to ask for constructive criticism from your friends, parents, advisors, and career services staff. If you are not able to put across a clean and error-free resume and do not have the time to proof-read it, then it gives the impression that you are careless and irresponsible; as simple as that!

From student to star – Kashyap!

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AISFM’s acting student, Kashyap bagged the lead role in the upcoming film, Production No. 1 by Kalyan Cine Creations banner. We caught up with him on his first day of shoot for a quick chat. Here’s what the debutant had to say.

How was your experience studying at AISFM?
It was wonderful! I made a lot of friends, and the faculty were amazing. I felt that they helped in bringing out the dormant actor inside of me, to the outside world. I was very reserved and restricted before joining AISFM, but once I started learning all of the things taught in my acting course, especially my psychology classes, they opened me up and woke up the sleeping actor inside of me. My favourite was the acting class, mainly because of my teacher. He was my childhood mentor. It’s funny because when I was little, I used to go to his house for tuitions. His sister used to teach me, so I was able to create a good rapport with him as well. This is part of the reason of me being given the award for the Best Student of my batch.  Psychology was also one of my favourite subjects. It helped me get inside the mind of the character and helped me portray it better on screen.

Could you mention a fun/memorable experience during your time here?
We have a vending machine in the cafeteria, and one of my friend had figured out a trick that allowed us to access it without using coins. We had night classes till around 8, so after everybody left we used to finish almost 20-30 cups of coffee/tea every day and then leave (chuckles). I don’t think I’ll ever forget that!

How does studying in a film school set you apart from the rest of the crowd?
Like I said before, studying at AISFM helped bring out the actor in me. It wasn’t like someone taught me something new, but rather felt like something that I already had inside of me. While I was studying at AISFM, I used to do a lot of short films for the other students, so they had coined the phrase ‘one-take actor’ for me, since I would deliver my dialogues in maybe 1 or 2 takes max.

The passion inside you is the only thing that will allow you to do something hatke in life. Before joining, I never even thought that one day I’d be sitting down and giving an interview, so that just shows that one needs the right drive and dedication to achieve success.

What advice would you like to give to the current students?
Okay, this is a bit tough! I will however tell them to never give up on their dreams. I have a friend, who wanted to become an actor, but he had to realise his capabilities. As an actor, you must know facial expressions; maintain your physique, especially in Tollywood. I also want to add that, we need a lot of supporting actors in the industry, not just mainstream heroes. Even if you are a hero, you will need a very good supporting actor for you to be able to act well. Hence, I would like to advice everybody to do every type of role and play every character and bring out the best in them.

How was your experience working in a film?
This is a love and humour based genre. It is really entertaining. My experience until today has been pretty good, everybody is really supportive. I had heard a lot about what it feels like to be on the set of a major film, and now I am experiencing it all and it is very unbelievable. People always say that you get frustrated on set, but as a newcomer, the others on set are pushing me so much that I do not feel that frustration. In fact, I feel calm, and that’s because of the people working in this film with me.

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
In front of a camera! Whatever role I get, I will analyse it, see whether I can do it well, do it perfect. Since the audience is always looking for something new and something fresh, I will always aim at becoming better and better.

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Internships: Gaining a ‘real world’ perspective

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All college students, simply must do an internship, better yet, it should be multiple internships. Why? Because it is a classic case of a win-win situation for both the employers and the students. Goes without saying that degrees are great, but internships make a huge difference and give students a good heads-up into the world of working.

Internships are a near necessity in the quest to find a job in today’s market and may be the easiest way to a job! Above all, internships could lead to a full-time position in that company. It also gives an opportunity to ‘test drive’ a career, establish relationships with mentors, introduce students to the field’s culture and etiquette, help accumulate new skills and gain a ‘real world’ perspective.

It does not help if students are simply more qualified than the person next to them; they have to be more qualified than countless others around. Going to a college or university is a critical step, but classroom learning can be enhanced greatly by gaining real world experience through internships. For employers who are looking for the top among college-educated, entry-level employees, internship is the best way to get talented and young professionals too.

Interns are valuable assets for employers for several reasons. In addition to being a pipeline for hiring, interns fill positions and assist employers with innovative ideas and technology. The importance and advantages of internships are many. Here are a few reasons why you should start looking out for one right away.

An edge above others
If you have completed one or more internships, you will clearly have an edge over your classmates who haven’t. Internship experience is just one of those things you have to have before employers even consider looking at your resume, because employers increasingly see internship as the best path for hiring entry-level candidates. And why not?! Quality internship programs produce highest quality candidates, most productive hires and hires with highest retention rates. What more could an employer ask for?

‘Test drive’ your career plan
Internships are an ideal way to enable you to take your career plan for a test drive. By doing so, you might discover in your planned career field that it’s not what you thought it would be or one niche of your field is a better fit for you than another. You will gain valuable insights of your field and able to better grasp how your coursework is preparing you to enter your chosen career. It will also help you discover any gaps between your classroom learning and what you need to know in the real world and you in turn can strategize how to fill those gaps.

Develops skills
Interning will help you develop skills and of course confidence. You may already have the great interpersonal skills employers seek, but in an internship you can sharpen them by interacting with people on a professional level. What’s more, you get to learn about teamwork, communication, leadership and problem-solving skills that employers look for.

Inculcates work habits
You will build motivation and work habits and it will help instil workplace qualities in you that you will definitely need after you graduate. It will also help you get more used to the habit of going to work.

Builds your resume
Internships not just help you build your network and but also your resume. Career relevant internship experience will definitely make a better impression on employers. The importance of internships in terms of networking and gaining new resources cannot be understated.

Not all internships are paid but those that do pay are decent salaries, which can translate into good pocket-money. Internships are the ultimate social network. So, what are you waiting for? Start looking out right now for a suitable one!

 

Standing on the shoulders of Giants: AISFM goes to Bologna

Masters student Varun Chaphekar was selected by AISFM to be a part of a three-week filmmaking workshop by the International Filmmaking Academy in Bologna.

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