Making the world more beautiful, one story at a time
Namaste: In India, when we meet and greet and we say “Namaste”, which means: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides, I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us. –Ram Dass
My name is Madhusudan and Today I would like to share with you my personal journey and hope in that process we can all connect in global oneness.
My Personal Journey began with my graduation from Academy of art university in San Francisco California. I had a major in Motion pictures and television. While I was there I made films from a church to strippers, from documentaries to a narrative features but yet something was incomplete, there was an emptiness and I felt the desire to come back and find my stories.
With a backpack and a donated camera I came back to India and started traveling. Stayed with Himalayan yogis to modern teachers, but the turning point came when I was making a film on one of the last active disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, Dwarko Sundarani ji.
He runs a school for the children of untouchable caste in rural Bihar, India. I stayed with him for 2 months and while leaving I touched his feet and asked his permission to go. And that’s when he asked me “Ok Madhu what are you going to do now, I didn’t understand for a moment , and then he said , find your truth through whatever you do.
Filmmaking is just an instrument , realize your true goal.
This blessing later gave birth to MAM
MAM, which means ‘I Am’ in Sanskrit, for us it personifies the soul, the brahman. Our foundation was personal change. We had to be the change we wished to see, as Gandhiji said.
A bunch of naïve, passionate young People got together and we asked ourselves, do we see a need to exist, is the media industry we have completely perfect or is there something we can transform, something we can contribute, something we can change.
There was clearly a need of engagement of youth in creating Media for social change.
In 2006 Times magazine person of the year was ‘you’, now our effort was to harness this energy and direct it towards creating engaging cinema and sensitive filmmakers.
1. Harness the power of technology: Internet, you tube and individual potential.
2. Engage youth, students & corporates in creating inspiring media
3. Social Branding: invite corporates to participate in creating social cinema with commercial value, as part of their CSR program.
We rolled our sleeves and our social experiment began.
• 1st step create a community of visionaries, rebels and mavericks. Collective Chaos we called it.
Me and my wife, with our computer and a borrowed table started in a small room, 2 years later it evolved to 5 fulltime members, 20 active volunteers and more than 2000 online members with an average 1 lakh online visitors per month.
• 2nd Create a support system with a self sustaining model
Jump and the net would appear, says the old zen quote and we did it.
But the zen master wasn’t there to cushion our fall. We hit the ground, were severely tested, stumbled on roadblocks, bruised ourselves but in the meantime it strengthen our souls. And when we were about to give up, we came across another visionary, Mr.Nachiket Mor from ICICI foundation, who said good ideas will have a life of its own. With his help we were able to create a resource center through which we could invite independent filmmakers to create short documentaries and videos for social causes for a very reasonable budget. Universe was conspiring to make our dreams come true.
• 3rd step , Create opportunities and event to engage them.
Our mantra: make a film, make a difference
Our first effort: Genesis film project, a film competition held in Mumbai where we invited 101 filmmakers to make films for 101 NGO’s in just 101 Hours.
It was an instant hit, with more than 300 filmmakers participating, we got 90 films on time and which motivated us to do it every year.
Then we launched a project called ‘She Creates’ , where we invited 25 girls from various backgrounds, from Dharavi slums, to children rescued from streets to some of them from public schools. Bought them together, gave them film workshop and in just 21 days these children made some heart warming films on women issues, gender inequality and female feticide. Best part, these girls were just 10-15years old and most of them were without any formal education.
These girls now have become citizen journalist, they have formed a video community within their own organization and make short videos about local stories and share it among the community. We hired one girl as teacher who goes back and helps create various other video communities. One story which reflected the immediate impact of this was of Salma, who wasn’t getting her ration card without a bribe, but when she went to the office with a video camera and questioned the officer in charge ,within one week she had her card.
These projects were awakening for us, we truly realized the power of videos and power of One.
Our next step is to create a ripple effect, to engage students, corporate and individuals, to inspire them to create participatory media and video communities throughout India. So that every organization could be able to have a voice and tell their story through videos which would be then connected globally through internet television.
I recently met a remarkable prof. Prof Anil Gupta from IIM Ahmedabad, who asked me, Madhu what’s you dream. Now Before I could reply, he said what’s your dream for next 200 years, what’s your dream for next 2000 years. Dream so big he continued that you look very small before your dreams.
So in this moment when we realize that we are all here for a reason and what we do today won’t be meaningless, I take the opportunity and make a humble effort to share some of our dreams.
I dream of a group of people who will work together to use the medium of art & cinema for the upliftment of humanity…
I dream of a support system for such group of people with the principles of social entrepreneurship…
I dream to have a new media industry with more citizen journalists who will empower themselves and their communities through videos…
I know these dreams may seem difficult but yet something within tells me:
“We are never given a dream with out the power to make it come true.”