His love affair with the camera began as a child when his father gifted him a Minolta. He has been in love with documenting cinema and theatre ever since. Capturing theatre performances with his camera, he makes sure he captures the essence of the production - something that the naked eye usually misses. He is noted documentary maker Sanjay Maharishi.
After the success of their second Chandigarh Cinema Festival held in August, the Chandigarh Creative Cinema Circle (C4) is back with their regular sessions, Sunday with Filmmaker, bringing Sanjay’s films — My Village is Theater, My Name is Habib, Basheer and The Making of a Tamasha — to Government Museum and Art Gallery, this Sunday.
He believes being from a theatre background has helped him a lot. “Both my parents pursue theater. My father, professor Mohan Maharishi, has also headed the Department of Indian Theatre at Panjab University. Therefore, my encounter with theatre began when I was four years old,” says Sanjay, who has been shooting for the past 23 years and has more thn 200 films to his credit.
He believes in the power of a camera more than that of the naked eye. Although, he does feel that the experience of watching a play cannot be replicated, but, at the same time, he shares, “When I capture theatre movements, my camera shoots various angles, movements and other technicalities that a layman can miss. Basically, my idea is to create a medium through which both, a documentary practitioner and the audience, can know how theatre works.”
Currently, Sanjay is working on a project that is close to his heart, as he has many childhood memories associated with it. Theatre actors will collaborate with professional circus artistes for the project and put together a performance for the circus ring. Talking about the film, he enthusiastically adds, “It is a unique project and the brain child of Dr Abhilash Pillai. The basic idea behind it is to revive circus.”
Sharing his childhood memories, he says, “Earlier, there was a circus in every city; that has changed drastically today. We grew up with circus — the joker, the trapeze. But now, it has almost vanished. The reasons are many — from non-availability of two acres of land for tents and temporary quarters for the artistes to unfriendly municipal authorities.”
Having been in the industry for more than two decades, Sanjay still feels it’s not a good idea to be a documentary filmmaker in our country, as it is a scarcely paid job. “But, I see that times are changing. There are youngsters who are ready to earn less to keep their passion alive. Some 10 years ago, there were no festivals dedicated to documentary films, but the scenario is changing and a lot of festivals have come up promoting young talent,” Sanjay concludes.