Beenu Rajpoot has rose to recognition from a small town of Punjab, where studying at college was considered a big issue for girls, let alone opting for contemporary career options such as filmmaking or fashion designing. After completing her Master’s in philosophy from Punjab, today she is an accomplished fashion designer, writer and filmmaker. Filmmaker Mike H Pandey, Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan and photographer O P Sharma are her gurus. Excerpts:
Q How challenging was your journey from an ordinary girl to an accomplished lady?
My journey was very challenging from the beginning. I belong to a small town of Punjab where filmmaking and fashion designing were not familiar career options. Studying at college was a big issue for girls in the 90s. But with the help of my parents and teachers I went for further studies in arts from HMV College Jalandhar, Punjab. After finishing graduation, I did Master’s in philosophy from Punjab University, Chandigarh. That was the first challenge of my life. In the year 1999, I came to Delhi for further studies in fashion and film making and after that I settled down in Delhi.
Q You are a writer, fashion designer and filmmaker -in what way does each inspire you?
After making many documentaries, I still feel that I am a learner. Research is the base of every project. Whether it is fashion designing, writing or filming. So I enjoy doing all. I like challenges! Every challenge you encounter in life is a fork in the road. You have to choose which way to go — backward, forward, breakdown or breakthrough. I always look forward and try to break through challenges. I always learn something new while shooting; while writing and while designing a costume.
Making films is my passion. I feel that movies touch our hearts, awaken our vision, and change the way we see world. But writing makes you perfect.A pen and paper, or a digital notepad, are some of the most powerful tools a creative worker can have. When one goes about one’s daily routines, the brain is automatically consuming, filtering, and sorting through information. Most of the thoughts one get throughout the day are often lost in sub consciousness. Free writing allows capturing this stream of thoughts.
Shooting for a film takes me to different places. I get the opportunity to know more people, cultures and lifestyles. They stimulate creative thoughts which I always note down in my writing pad. I also read a lot.
Fashion has not only empowered me as a strong woman but also drove me to excel. How one dress, can interpret the person’s lifestyle and even feelings. I’ve always wanted to help women enhance their natural beauty.
Q How challenging is it to do so many things at once?
Sometimes it is challenging. Whatever I am doing is related to art, which is an integral part of the human experience. Self-expression that comes from art not only benefits the artist, but also the viewers.So I have to present my best-self in every project. Even though art can sometimes be strenuous mentally, it is important to foster our artistic side to get a break from our regular routine. Go create something new! Sometimes I have to go beyond to create new ideas and to research as well.
That disrupts my daily routine but ultimately gives me a creative satisfaction. My brain is always multitasking. In every project of mine, my thinking revolves around the originality and cultural ethos of India. I take challenges as a part of my life and love to break through it!
Q What motivates your documentary films?
Every nation has its own cultural values. And India is one of the oldest in the world. I always try to contribute towards the betterment of India through the medium of films. I am huge admirer of Indian art, culture and literature. Most of my films are based on it. I always choose inspiring and thought provoking stories with social messages. I believe that no art moves our conscience like films do. As a filmmaker it is my dream that my films would touch viewers to the soul.
My first film Born to dance was a biopic of Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan. Her persona as a positive and lively person inspired me to make a film on her life. Banaras: Ka’ba-e-Hindustan is based on poet Mirza Ghalib’s work Chirag-e-dair which he wrote at Banaras around 1828. The masnavi is an ode to the spirit of secularism, plurality and co-existence of cultures that defines India.
Wall of Valour – A tribute to martyrs is dedicated to all the martyrs of Central Armed Police Forces and State Police of India who worked 24×7 for the safety of the nation.
Q Have formal education helped you in any way in your multiple endeavours?
Yes of course! I studied philosophy that’s why I can research properly, write well and understand the historical as well as logical aspect of every project. Formal education is of utmost importance if you want to have a successful career. It’s the basic knowledge that helps earn respect, recognition, empathy, and a deep understanding about ourselves, and the world we live in.
We need to enhance our level of creativity and constantly challenge our minds. For example, learning by traveling, learning history, moving to another country, learning a new language, or as simple as just reading a book, that gives people a huge amount of information about anything they are interested.
Q Share your philosophy of life.
I am not born with a silver spoon. I learnt from every step of my life and still I am learning. Self-motivation and high ideals helped me to deal with it. We must have the courage to think differently, to invent, to travel the unexplored path, discover the impossible and to overcome problems and succeed.A person’s philosophy will vary depending on one’s life experience.I believe that no two people have seen life in the same way. One must learn from past experiences, mature and move on.
Always remember who you are. This is how life was meant to be for you and you should live it to the fullest every day. Pen down your experiences and thoughts, ignore senseless existence, live close to your inner world, live healthy and live your life positively!
Q What will be your message to all women out there?
A woman is God’s perfect creation. She is the future of all generations. Every woman must know their own power which lies within her. Today, woman is equal to men, and can do miracles in any field. They are playing their roles in all walks of life. I am a big believer of the fact that women today can achieve anything they set their minds on.