Shikha Janet Alagh, who has received international acclaim at film festivals in the UK, the US, Europe, South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan, feels the Indian film industry is now producing more meaningful cinema and says it is because the audience is growing intellectually and demanding more relevant content….writes Nivedita
“The Indian film industry is revolutionising and coming out with more meaningful cinema. I see this as the best time for a filmmaker like myself to come in and contribute. The audience is intellectually growing and becoming more and more demanding of relevant and real content. My forte as a young, woman filmmaker makes my scripts very adaptable in this scenario,” Alagh said.
Alagh, born and brought up in Dubai is a Christian-Sikh, has always been fascinated with the culture and diversity India showcases. Soon after her schooling, she decided to pursue filmmaking as her career and shifted to India.
From the age of 19, she made her films the voice of the silenced.
Today, the young filmmaker has her own SJA Productions banner under which she has created award-winning films like “Deaf Ears”, with women’s empowerment as its theme.
Alagh believes that films, like any other art form, should be able to connect with the viewer on an emotional level.
“Be it the emotion of love, happiness, jealousy, sadness, etc., emotions are universal and have the power to communicate beyond language. Hence a film that connects with my emotions remains with me much longer than one that does not,” she said.
“The capability of a film in terms of reaching and connecting with the mass is immense. Everyone watches films and films are everywhere; not just at the theatre but on TV and, with the growth of digital media, even your smartphone.
“My films give a voice to untold stories which means they are aimed at creating awareness about unspoken issues. For me, it’s never about enforcing change; I believe that if we start talking about the things that are kept silent, change will occur organically for the better, with time,” she added.
Just like social issues, she also feels films should travel the world for the industry to grow.
Talking about her work, which has been appreciated in Pakistan, she says that she could not travel to Pakistan in time for the felicitation but the response has been humbling.
“I think international film festivals are a great way to create global impact. Filmmakers from all across the globe come together and the similarities in the issues and topics their films speak of are amazing. This shows the effort that filmmakers are making towards a more harmonious and peaceful world,” she said.
She is now set to launch her first commercial short film “Jal” that talks about acid attacks on women along with the launch of her first docu-drama “Fallen Pillars”, which is based on the true story of a broken family and the strength of a single mother.
She also plans to work for a feature film with Bollywood stars.
“A Bollywood feature film is definitely on the cards; eventually that is where I see myself. As far as stars are concerned, time and the particular scripts will have to tell,” she said.