A short film on graffiti artists, made by a student from Pune who is studying filmmaking in the US, has won the ‘Best Student Film 2018 Award’ by the ‘Directors Guild of America’ (DGA), in a recent ceremony.
Difficult People (Kashmakash), by 29-year-old Sohil Vaidya, focuses on graffiti artists in Mumbai and examines the dilemma faced by urban youth today.
Considered one of the most prestigious student film awards in the world, Vaidya received it at an event organised by DGA at Los Angeles, where the film was also screened for the invitees. This film was also selected for the Montecatini International Short Film Festival, 2018, and will also be screened at the Jaipur International Film Festival, 2018.
The son of cardiologist and national chief of Arogya Sena, Dr Abhijit Vaidya, he completed his masters in computer science in Pune around 2011. Sohil recently did an MFA in film production from the University of Southern California (USC).
“Before finishing my masters, I was involved in theatre for a couple of years. Rather than continuing in the world of IT, I thought of making a short film and giving myself a chance to explore cinema. I made a documentary named Diaries of Unknown, based on people in metro cities who don’t have documents of their existence. It was screened at the international short and documentary film festival of Kerala in 2013, where it prompted a conversation on this issue. To enhance my skills further and to learn to communicate with larger audiences, I thought of applying to USC and got accepted in 2014… by 2018, I finished MFA in Film Production from USC with specialisation in direction,” he said
Vaidya said Difficult People was not only deeply personal to him, but the film also tried to reflect on similar dilemmas faced by many Indian youth. “Mostly, my fictional films are based on the things that I have experienced and have felt personally. Most of my films deal with identity, and about the journey of self-discovery… protagonists trying to find where they belong,” he said.
The young filmmaker’s earlier student films have also had quite an impact. His 16-minute-long film, Geeta, was about slavery and was shortlisted for four prestigious international film festivals.
Vaidya is currently finishing the script of his feature film, which “explores the volatile culture of social media and the existential void caused by it”. “In the future, I would love to make films in India and US… I hope that the DGA recognition will give me a strong foundation as a filmmaker here in Hollywood,” he said.