Achal Mishra is an Indian-born photographer and aspiring filmmaker based in London. He is currently studying film at the King’s College whilst independently working on a number of short films. His work provides a unique insight into the people of the colourful nation as he seeks to go beyond its stereotypical representation.
Interview with the artist
A lot of your work is set in India. How would you describe your relationship with the country?
Well, I was born in India and I grew up there, so I think it goes beyond than just being a descriptive relationship. If we talk in the context of art, India is certainly very important to me. In cinema and photography, as in any other art, the truly indigenous style can be evolved only by a director or photographer working in his own country, where he is fully aware of the past heritage and the present environment.
How long have you been living in London for?
I just arrived here last September, so it has only been about five months.
How do you compare living in India to living in London?
It’s different. But not to the extent people sometimes say it is. The lifestyle is said to be much better here than in India, but it’s not so anymore. The difference that exists, to some extent, is in the mindset of people.
What is it like being a film student at King’s College?
It’s great! The kind of exposure I am getting to world cinema is amazing. However, since it’s all theory, I miss the practical side of filmmaking. I am trying to make up for it by doing my own projects whenever I get time.
Why is film and photography important to you?
As a kid, I used to draw and paint all the time. My childhood was a rather lonely one, so I had all the time to try different things. In my early teens, I started photography and writing stories and poems. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started making films, and when I did, everything else sort of took a backseat. Film-making is something which encompasses all these other art forms I was doing: drawing (storyboarding & art direction), photography (cinematography) and writing (script).
As for photography, it is something I very much enjoy. Whenever I have nothing to do, I pick up my camera and go out to shoot.
What are your favourite themes to explore throughout your art?
I am only nineteen years old, so I am still reeling under a lot of influences of other artists, and am still trying to find my own themes and styles. However, from what I have done till now, I can say that there is a certain humanistic approach that I try to bring in to my work. The India I go out to photograph is not the exotic India as the foreigners see it, but the India that Premchand or Tagore wrote about.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a couple of short-film scripts, which I plan to shoot whenever I am back in India.
What are your plans for the future?
I don’t really know; I just want to keep making films. I don’t know where it will lead me. There’s this quote by David Lean that comes to mind: “I love making films. If I wasn’t paid to do it, I would pay to do it.”
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