Film Education

Testimonial by Nitin Neera Chandra


Nitin Neera Chandra

National Award Winning Filmmaker 2016

Attended Oorvazi’s Film Appreciation Batch 2009

Nitin pic

After I Completed my Masters learning Cinema for two years at Pune University, I came to Mumbai and started working as a production assistant but until I attended Oorvazi’s Irani Film Appreciation classes, I did not know what I was missing. Those 8 days of workshop literally changed the way I was thinking and streamlined a lot of thoughts about Cinema and how it is suppose to work. I remember making two short films for which I was rewarded with a DVD which I have still kept.

I directed two films Deswa and Mithila Makhaan, I had joined Oorvazi’s workshop as preparation of for Deswa. Deswa want on to become first film in the Bhojpuri language to get selected at Indian Panorama section of prestigious International Film Festival of India, Goa. in 2012

My second film Mithila Makhaan is winner of National Award, ‘Best Film in Maithili Language’ in 2016. Thanks to Oorvazi because one part of my little understanding has her contribution.


Testimonial by Nishi Panicker



Nishi Panicker posing with Oorvazi Irani on her school Graduation day


Nishi Panicker

International Baccalaureate Film Student, SVKM International School(Batch 2014-16)

Currently awaiting her final results with IB

I joined IB thinking that film would be the easiest of my subjects and now when I reflect back it was probably the most challenging. Our very first class, I remember Oorvazi ma’am asking us why we chose film and what aspect we loved the most. I was confused because I remember feeling like I didn’t know anything about film,which in retrospect was true. I don’t know how two years flew by but one thing I can say confidently is that there’s not a single a class with ma’am where I’ve left with the same knowledge as when I entered.

There’s always something to learn from her whether it’s her undying love for the art of cinema,her enthusiasm or her unwillingness to ever stop pushing you to be the best that you can. She helped me develop my love for writing,she taught me to always dig deeper because when it comes to learning there’s never an end point. Every single moment of frustration was followed by an increase of reverence whether it was her pushing me to a better writer and director or just sitting on the sidelines and letting me learn from my mistakes.

Oorvazi ma’am strives to teach you about film but unknowingly teaches you how to be a better learner and a greater person and for that I will always be grateful to her. To me she was more than just a teacher who had an allotted two hours,she is someone I look up to because she will never stop caring.

Testimonial by Rahul Sharma



Rahul Sharma

International Baccalaureate Film Student, SVKM International School (Batch 2011-13)

My talented young filmmaker is currently on his way to pursue MA Filmmaking at the London Film School

Director & Screenwriter – “Story of a Lonely Goldfish” (20min)


Rahul posing with his Film Poster at the Seattle International Children’s Film Festival


‘Rahul. Take it easy. Plan it out well. You don’t have to shoot tomorrow. Let’s brainstorm first.’ These are the words that echo in my mind when I think of my film teacher and mentor Oorvazi Irani. As you can figure it, I was always in a experience things…to make films…to live life…or even to be free. But it’s at times like these that you need someone to tell you to hold on, take a step back, understand and evaluate. And only when you’re ready, allow you to fly. Such was her role in my nurturing across the years.

She lent utmost support to me when I directed my first experimental film ‘Huma’ (7 minutes) be it in its conceptualisation or storyboarding to even the final touches in the editing suite. The best part about her involvement was that she gave me enough creative liberty and space to carry out my own ideas. She was just there to guide them and put them forth in the right direction.

Most of my love for cinema..its vast horizons of genres..its numerous techniques..and knowledge about some of the great masters of the artform were inculcated by her. During my IBDP (International Baccaulaureate Diploma Programme) course, I was able to write a 4000-word extended essay on Akira Kurosawa and portrayal of violence in its most unique facets in his films. I also wrote a 12-minute audio visual script conceptualising myself as a narrator talking about The French New Wave and its Influences on cinema from across the world such as the Hollywood New Wave and the Iranian New Wave. The IBDP film curriculum required in-depth research, thorough analytical skills and above all passion. I owe all of this to Ms. Oorvazi Irani’s guidance, effort and most importantly, belief.

I remember I was overjoyed when her debut film Path of Zarathustra was released in theatres. Here is the work of an artist who defied stringent cultural paradigms, related to the true essence of her culture and recognised her own voice. The film not only breaks traditional Zoraoastrianism barriers but also lucidates forward thinking with courage and spirit. I have also never seen anyone maintain the dualist balance of an actor-director better than my film teacher in her first work of art.

I look forward to seeing more of her films and would recommend her course ‘Filmmaking for Beginners’ to all cinephiles, cinema lovers and anyone even remotely interested in the art, as she is someone who can reinvigorate her energy into you.

Testimonial by Altamash Jaleel



Altamash Jaleel

My first IB film student

International Baccalaureate, SVKM JV Parekh International School (batch 2010-2012)

Currently pursuing his dream course in the footsteps of his idol Martin Scorsese

Student BFA in Film/TV Production at NYU Tisch

Altamash pic


I came to Ms. Oorvazi Irani’s IB (International Baccalaureate) film class as a Martin Scorsese fanboy and graduated the program as a full-time Cinemaniac. Ms. Irani is a living, breathing film encyclopedia, and her students develop not only an appreciation for the great masters like Truffaut and Kurosawa, but come out with an education of the entire history of cinema and how it shapes and unites cultures through the universal language of film. But, I feel that there is an even greater aspect to her approach, and that is in her persistence to find one’s truth. She advocates the ‘auteur’ path to filmmaking and has always encouraged me to reflect on my personal experiences as source material for my films. I think I was very lucky to have her as my first film teacher, since she never stopped pushing me to dig deeper and find meaning in the littlest of these experiences so that I could write and direct a personal story, and ultimately a film that I will always be proud to call my first.




Piya Aiso Jiya Mein – A Tribute and Critique to Indian Cinema by Oorvazi Irani


Its a joy to share with you my latest short experimental one minute film, a humble tribute and critique to Indian cinema. Please read the interview conducted by MAM (madabout which helps share my thoughts about the idea behind the making of the film and helps put the film in context which might seem apparently simple on first viewing. The interview is right below this film window and please do read it.


MAM interviews Oorvazi Irani, the filmmaker and actress of “Piya Aiso Jiya Mein”

Q: This is an unusual yet original short film. What thoughts prompted this cinematic experiment?

O- A: Primarily there is so much hype around the 100 years of Indian Cinema, I thought how can I make a meaningful artistic comment in a concise manner which is both a tribute and a critique at the same time. Hence this idea was born.

Q: The film seems very simple at the surface and the viewer could easily miss the point, but the work has an interesting thought and is obviously complex with multiple layers unfolding, can you elaborate a bit about the thinking behind the film and the cinematic form you have used? And can we call it a musical?

O-A: Let me start by saying that any work of Art prompts and evokes the viewer to ‘see’, ‘look’ and ‘perceive’ the subject of the work in this case Indian Cinema in a fresh new light – Art takes you intuitively to the heart of the subject while experiencing beauty. More like a poem or a painting. Here for example there is the beauty of the music, the close up of the eternal human face, the eyes which express the inner mental state, the mirror motif etc.

Yes you are right by defining it as a musical as it is the song that drives the film which embodies the emotion and the progression of the film. ‘Song’ itself is a very unique and integral part of Indian cinema which is put into play in my experimental short film and is my chosen mould to explore as an artist.

The film is akin to a love poem with the theme being the ‘quest for the beloved’, however there is a character graph and the protagonist is transformed in the end.The song as you know is iconic from Guru Dutt’s film Sahib Biwi Aur Gulam and I have replaced the image of the legendary actress Meena Kumari and deliberately used my face which is then a universal representative of all females and have taken the avatar of the ‘Nayika’(heroine). I have kept the first lines of the song from the original which I have lip synced and the last section has my voice with the message. The line with the message is my original line camouflaged in the song lyrics. In the process the film begins with paying a tribute to the beauty and charm of Indian cinema and then ends on a note of expressing the desires for change – the liberation of the identity of women in Indian cinema.

Q: The film does not have elaborate sets, locations or characters but is focused on one individual and that too in close-up with just one prop. Were you apprehensive about its appeal?

O-A: No! As I believe an artist needs to set up certain creative limitations, these are the challenges that then help create a unique work. The choices that you make are then what make it special. We see so many films that have big sets and big budgets but maybe do not leave you with a stimulating thought to ponder. The choice of the close-up was because besides it being an important form of the original iconic song itself it helps the filmmaker to draw attention to the beauty and grace of the minute expressions of the face and the emotions are expressed through the language of the eyes which is rare in contemporary cinema.Today I feel more and more that the ‘female body’ has replaced the ‘face’ in songs in Indian cinema stressing the physicality ‘Love as sex’and with this is lost the depth of emotion. The personality of the heroine is more about her sexuality than her as a human being, commoditized. Liberating the role of women in cinema is not just about making her sexually active but instead more about treating her as an individual, giving her gender equality.The Indian women still remains caged in the patriarchal system of oppression –of individual self-worth, and their identity is limited and dependent to the male. This is a strong message that the film subtlety puts out.

Also the close-up was necessary and part of the exploration as the film is dealing with the ‘Shringar Rasa’ (one of the key Rasas in the ancient Indian treatise on Indian art – The Natya Shastra) of union and separation in Love and finally discovering that ‘Self’ and ‘Truth’ is truly finding the beloved. The film is to be understood in the context of the nuances of this rasa where Love is far beyond just physical eroticism but envelopes the beauty of the experience of Love and the movements of eyebrows, eyeballs, sweet glances and delicate smile, along with down cast glances and closing of eyes – is a vocabulary beyond words and the Natya Shastra is rich with minute descriptions of ‘glances’ as a whole exploration – some of the glances for transitory states are Lajjanvita(bashful), Lalita (amorous), Ardhamukula(joy or bliss)which are humbly touched upon in my small experiment besides other aspects.
The simple motif of the mirror in the film plays an integral role and is charged, in it lays the clue of the transformation and discovery of ‘Self’.

Finally an artist creates the work and thus created is an expression of a labour of love, the audience adds their own self to it and accepts and completes it or rejects the work and leaves it as an incomplete communication. I have no problem if the audience cannot identify with my work but I feel the audience needs to understand the context with which the film is to be viewed and then accept or reject it.

Q: And lastly, can you tell us why did you choose this particular Meena Kumari song ?

O- A: Meena Kumari fascinates me as a persona on screen and in real life. She has a very strong presence and her eyes are soulful. She is one of the few actresses who haunt you with her beauty and pathos. Meena Kumari has been an iconic actress during the golden era of Indian cinema. Her persona embodies the ’eternal yearning’ for the beloved both in real and reel life, and I wanted to pay her a tribute by completing her story and liberate her at least in the creative realm with this short experimental film.

First published on

The Documentary Goonj and Interview with the filmmaker Adhiraj Bose

Goonj Poster 2


A documentary featuring Naseeruddin Shah as an integral voice in the film along with other interesting characters and experts explores the issues revolving around the illegal cultivation of cannabis (the biological name for the derivative plant for charas or marijuana) in the Himachal Pradesh state of India.

A large section of people feel that cannabis, the holy weed, should be legalized for a number of reasons. ‘Goonj’ goes into the depth of the layers involved in the decision of legalization and cultivation of this weed.

The filmmaker in action in Kullu

The filmmaker in action in Kullu

It was a great joy to see this documentary by Adhiraj Bose who was part of my film appreciation family a few years ago. He is indeed a talented young filmmaker and it is my pleasure to share his documentary with you (entire film link enclosed at the end of this interview) and my interview with the young man.

1. How would you describe yourself?

I guess I’d have to say that I’m an aspiring director who is looking out to someday make the films I love and tell the stories I want to tell. But having said that, there’s a long journey before that where I just want to learn and gather as much knowledge as possible by working and observing.

2. What was the germ of the idea for this documentary and why this subject?

The idea was to make a documentary about a contemporary issue in a particular state in India which many people may not know about in depth.

This subject was extremely intriguing since the plant ‘cannabis’, the cultivation of which is illegal in India because is considered synonymous to drugs like charas and marijuana, in fact had several interesting dimensions to it. As we read and researched more about it, we felt the compelling need to dig further into the subject.

3. The biggest challenge in making it?

There were a few. But I guess the most crucial ones were getting people to speak freely about a taboo topic like this, and the locations that we had to reach out to for shooting (like the secluded Malana village in the Himalayan region).

The team trekking upto the Malana village

The team trekking up-to the Malana village

4. How was your project funded?

It was completely out of our own pockets. There were primarily 10 of us working on it and each one of us contributed equally to the total budget.

5. How do you plan to reach out with your film, who is your key audience?

This film’s primary motive is awareness. It’s an educative approach towards something that’s considered either recreational or illegal by the respective sections of people. So our target audience is nearly everyone in India or beyond. People who are either interested or talk or hear about the legalization of cannabis and and want to know the deep rooted issues involved.

6. Is there a similarity between documentary and fiction, do you feel the lines meet?

Yes I do feel there are similarities. Several, starting from the same 3 stages of pre-production, production and post production in both fiction and documentary while making them, to the same primary motive of both to provide your audience with something relevant that they would be interested in sitting through, and may be even revisiting.

One of the similarities as far as the making is concerned that I find most interesting is that, just like there is the crucial step of casting involved in a fiction film, similarly a documentary also involves a different kind of casting. It involves the key people that you really need in your documentary because of the credible knowledge they have.

7. What has your experience working with directors like Vishal Bhardwaj taught you as a filmmaker?

Well there’s something new you learn from every individual if you want to. Vishal sir has produced the first film I worked on and directed the songs in it. He also co-wrote the film. So there’s a new perspective you observe and lessons in hard work and perseverance you gain from someone who has been there and proved himself time and again.

8. What next?

If I don’t do a Post Graduate course in Film Direction or Screenwriting, then probably I’ll be working on a few more films in order to observe and learn as much as I can before I make my own.


Entertainment Vs Truth


Entertainment Vs Truth

A musing by Oorvazi Irani

The recent Oscar nominees and winner have got me thinking again. Do films reflect reality or a perception of reality, or is reality and the truth anywhere in the picture. A film always has an agenda and belongs to someone. So when we view a film we need to think deeper than the plot and be aware of an undercurrent ideology that the film promotes.  Sometimes intentional, sometimes in the name of formula and entertainment truth is put for sale.

I would like to quote Farrukh Dhondy(from his column Cabbages and Kings that appeared in Asian Age on March 2nd 2013) in regards the film “Lincoln” and the interesting views he puts forth

“Slavery in America was not abolished by Lincoln and his civil war but by the need of the nascent capitalist industries in the North for free labour from the South.

…….The question is, quite simply, “Did Abraham Lincoln intentionally and heroically liberate the slaves?”
A child’s first view of history is mythological. Figures loom largest. Noah saved all living creatures from the flood; William conquered Britain; Ashoka united India; Aurangzeb stubbornly brought about the downfall of the Mughal empire; Lincoln freed the slaves… People dominate. They are the movers, the shakers of the earth and it makes sense.
Then comes adolescence and the awareness that history is not the story of kings but the story of the people. One embraces that doctrine with all the enthusiasm of the new republican and then follows the theory… ” ( here is the link to the full article

The film “Argo” at the surface does not seem a Hollywood formula film and is based on true facts but why does the film have a climax that seems just too filmy to digest, a car chasing a plane and the heroes get away safe and sound.  What is the level of creative liberties in relation to depicting facts that do not dilute the heart of the matter is an interesting exploration. As facts were omitted , different circumstances created for a more entertaining film but as a certain critic rightly questions is that really necessary to create drama, a good storyteller could extract the drama out of real life but I say would that sell is the big question, but why not, do we want it to sell and to whom. When presenting a historical fact seeing it from the American viewpoint only could be dangerously pushing Iranian stereotypes and highlighting an event itself projects the makers in a certain light. Its not about how good or bad the Iranians are  but whats most important is about how great the Americans are.

“Argo” the Oscar winning film this year again highlights a supposed success story of America and the whole world starts talking about it. The film is cinematically quite good like all the films mentioned above and has a style of realism in its cinematic appeal (most of the time) but yet again the main focus of the film remains projecting the American CIA agent as the star. A popular film needs a active single strong protagonist and this character dynamics is never lost in the tale of all our Oscar films mentioned above. It just happens to be that two of those protagonists are CIA agents, isn’t it.

Reality is all perception and truth is but relative, in that web I search for my vision of discovery.