Television director, Sandy Smolan is not too surprised with the success of Ally McBeal in India. “I realised that we may look and dress differently, but family drama is the same everywhere,” says Smolan, who has also directed shows like the hugely popular TV drama series, Brothers and Sisters. “I think the extended family drama resonates with the joint family system in India.”
On his third visit to the country, the director feels a lot has changed. “My last visit was a short one. I took about a year to make a documentary in a small town outside Alwar.” About his first visit, the director recalls, “It was about 25 years ago. I travelled a lot — from north to south India. Back then, you saw only white Ambassador cars on the streets, unlike today when automobiles in different shapes, sizes and colours are seen everywhere.”
The television director has turned his lenses towards making documentaries lately. “I recently shot one in the village of Belsi, which lies off the main highway that connects Nepal to India,” says Smolan.
The film follows a women’s self-help group and tracks their economic and personal transformation with the help of a goat. “It looks at promoting sustainable development through gifts of livestock, where a dairy gift like a goat is passed on to other women in the community,” he adds.
Smolan finds shooting across villages is challenging. “The culture and language are no barriers for a docu. All you need is a keen eye and sound judgement,” he adds.
After presenting a talk at the Ink Conference in Lavasa last weekend, Smolan is now headed to Bengaluru for some inspiration. He says, “I’ll be visiting ScanCafe there, an American scan centre that digitises old photos. The work is outsourced from Bengaluru, where a group of young women work. It should be interesting to see what they are up to.”