Tell us about yourself.
Growing up my brother and I heard myriad stories about our mother, Dr. Geeta Balakrishnan's work, who is a retired Professor from the College of Social work, Nirmala Niketan. These stories were either about tsunami relief work or the Plague or the Bombay riots. Her everyday stories were stories from communities and those concerned with fighting for the rights. I remember this one time she was late from work and when she came home, she told us how their entire bunch was arrested and they had spent the day in the Police station playing Antakshari.
I strongly feel some of the bits and pieces of the work I do today is somewhere because I grew up listening to these fantastic tales. I am an advertising filmmaker and co-run a company called Footloose Films (www.footloosefilms.in). Although for the most part, we sell shampoos and biscuits, I continue to learn the craft of filmmaking and of running a business every single day. Fortunately, we do often get the opportunity to voice poignant and beautiful stories for our clients. This definitely balances everything out. Currently, I am engaged in working on a feature-length documentary that should be complete early next year.
How do you inhabit the spaces and time that surround you in daily life?
The lockdown has been strange for some and tough for many but I’ve had the most interesting few months. I’ve grown leaps and bounds. After spending the first few weeks at home, I was definitely itching to go out and do something. Makers Asylum was one of the first to make various prototypes of the face shields and had set a goal of making 1 million of them. I was lucky to have volunteered alongside them for a few weeks - a very fun and inspiring bunch! Right after, I did have to self-quarantine for 2 weeks before I could see my folks as I hadn’t for a long time. It was then that I started planning some fund-raising events for Nabhangan Foundation which is run by a dear friend, Rajshri Deshpande. We did some very fun events - music, a tête-à-tête with ad gurus Balki and Prasoon Pandey, a writing workshop for children, baking, and so on. With the help of these, we successfully raised a fair bit of money thanks to the many kind friends and family who participated.
Another exciting thing was the Facebook group PadSquad, which was formed during the lockdown, mostly by strangers. The idea was very simple - we put out a post on social media asking people to ‘donate pads’ they could buy via amazon etc. Then we tagged many of our friends and family and shared the address of the location where the pads were to be shipped, over a message. What started as one basti in Mumbai has grown to a presence in 23 cities with more than 50 pad Squadders. Just keeping track of all that is going is a task for us co-founders. However, every single update or photograph of distribution, be it from Ranchi to Beawar to Assam to Bangalore, really warms our hearts.
I also got to shoot for an organization that I have meaning to work with for years- Doctors without Borders. Currently, I am involved with a project called Shramik Samman launched on the 15th of August 2020, with the aim of working towards 74 livelihood projects for migrant workers who have had to return to their homes across the country to mark 74 years of Independence.
What does "Movement" mean to you and what trajectory has it embarked upon over the recent months?
I have a lot of respect for people who adopt a certain project, job, or cause, and go all out. I’m a bit of a scatterbrain and like to dip my toes into different waters. Not sure if that’s good or bad but it’s my kind of movement. Probably because it helps me explore and evolve through learning new things, meeting varied people, taking on some fresh challenging tasks.
What gets you moving inside-out & outside-in?
I’ve caught myself using the term “good vibes” very often these days. Isn’t that a big part of everything we do and everyone we meet? We need to be each other’s catalysts for happy energy in everything we do.
What has been your most challenging point of adaptation in your life? Did it empower you? If yes, how?
For me, it was starting my company, Footloose Films. I used to be a freelancer prior to that and when we started the company, as much as I loved being an ‘entrepreneur’, I did struggle with not having the freedom of a freelancer. However, in the past 3 years at the company have grounded me in many ways. Well, even the last few months have because I do feel like I have changed and grown drastically. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by people who are doing such selfless work. It isn't only about going out and working. There are many who are in their homes but get so much done, connect so many dots, help in so many ways. The last few months have taught me that intent is all it takes, everything else just happens.