Anshul Sinha started making films with a mobile camera in 2011. From covering a blind school to talking about the issue of bio medical waste – all his movies are based on social issues and are made with the aim of creating awareness and impact. Today, he has won 102 awards for work.
“I always wanted to do something for the development of the country. So in college, I started this initiative of collecting Re. 1 from every student in my class, every day. And at the end of the month we would donate all of it for some social cause. In the first month we went to donate it in a school for visually impaired children. There we found that the school didn’t have any facility for computer science education. I decided to make a short film about the school, and after watching it, the Lions Club of Hyderabad donated 12 computers to them,” says 26-year-old filmmaker, Anshul Sinha.
That impact of his first film encouraged Anshul to continue in the direction of filmmaking. He was pursuing MBA from Avanthi PG College at the time, while also studying for a diploma degree in mass communication from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
The Hyderabad resident continued to shoot many short documentaries. After the blind school, he visited an old age home where he interviewed a person whose son decided to take him back home after watching that four minute long documentary.
“I was able to create many changes with the help of documentary filmmaking in just one year. That is when I thought that if this initiative can create so much impact in just one year, how helpful would it be if taken up by more colleges! I went to around 50 colleges to spread the concept, and also started participating in all filmmaking competitions in Hyderabad,” says Anshul.
Till today, he has made 41 films and won 102 awards with 22 international nominations.
His first short film was based on poverty in India and it won 15 awards in different filmmaking competitions at college, university and state levels. This gave Anshul the confidence to continue and he made Chocolate Cover, his second short film that again won several awards. After finishing college in 2012, he made a film named Lapet that won him his first international award at the My Hero International Film Festival organised in Los Angeles.
“That is one of the most memorable awards I have received till date. I shot the film using a mobile camera and there were films from about 65 countries that were nominated,” he says.
Until this point, Anshul was using a mobile camera to record his films. He later used the money he had saved with the help of the awards to purchase a handheld video camera and to start making independent documentary films.
One common thread connecting all of Anshul’s films is his desire to create an impact. The Unseen Disaster, a documentary film based on biomedical waste in Hyderabad, discusses the dangerous ways in which some hospitals in the city were handling bio-medical waste without following guidelines.
“I risked my life several times when shooting this film and uncovering facts about mafias involved in illegal disposal of bio-medical waste. I even got a death threat when the film was ready to be released. It won four international nominations and 14 awards in different film festivals in India,” he says.
This was followed by Gateway to Heaven, a film based on the life of Rajeshwar Rao, the man who has conducted the last rites of 12,000 unclaimed dead bodied in the last 20 years in Hyderabad. Rajeshwar’s story stayed with Anshul for a long time before he decided to make a film about it. He researched for six months but when the time came to start the movie, he couldn’t find a producer. “Since no one was ready to produce the film, I took a night shift job to collect money for the same. I used to work at night and shoot during the day,” says Anshul.
The 60-minute documentary is a mix of animation and fiction. It discusses the work of international and local organ mafias as well.
“I feel that we should all do something to create a change in our society, and for that I make inspirational movies that help create awareness, discuss different problems and reach conclusions on topics that are not usually discussed in the mainstream media. Living as a documentary filmmaker is difficult sometimes because of the lack of funds, but it is the impact that drives me forward,” he concludes. He is currently working as an ad filmmaker while preparing for his next film based on farmer suicides.