What happens when an engineer turns film maker and ropes in non-actors to star in his maiden venture? Add to that art cinema steeped in the Indian class divide, institutions of folk art fading to oblivion and a story that strikes a familiar chord. What do you get?
Rajnesh Domalpalli, the path-breaking director and his maiden directorial venture, ’Vanaja’…read on for more on this director who tasted international success with his very first film.
The Hyderabad-born film maker has a degree in electrical engineering from IIT, Mumbai and an M.S. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He worked in the Silicon Valley from 1986 but gave it all up to join the likes of Nagesh Kukunoor in 2006 when he enrolled in a film making course at New York’s Columbia University. Armed with preparatory courses in art history, design, acting and voice study, his student script won him an award and he went on to develop the story line to make ‘Vanaja’ in Telugu.
Lessons from life
The son of a dam construction engineer, Rajnesh spent his growing years in Nagarjunasagar, Srisailam, Nizamabad and Manjeera. His close interaction with household help and the common man made him pick the characters of his film from real life – a former municipal sweeper, security guard, an old woman who had ferried bricks. This is but a vindication of his belief that life is a better teacher than acting school.
An eye for detail reflects in ‘Vanaja’s’ music and star cast:
The burrakatha folk dance performed by a troupe from Vizag.
Carnatic music playing as the background score.
Janapada geetalu, rarefolk songs which were originally recorded at villages and towns where the art is now relegated to a dying art form.
Accolades and more
The debutante director has traveled across the globe to bag awards and accolades like Best Narrative Feature at the IAAC Film Festival, New York, last year, screenings at Toronto, Hampton, Denver, Goa and the Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for the Best Debut Feature Film.
What would you call Rajnesh Domalpalli? A successful ‘creative’ engineer who followed his heart? Share your opinion with us.