All Art Artists

Being an artist – DJ Zameer

DJ Zameer pinged me on Facebook one day. He asked me to consider him for the next subject of my BAA (Being an artist) series. Is DJing an art? I asked myself.

I guess in my head, I never looked at DJing like that – an art-form. But what is a DJ if not an artist ultimately?

This 3 Minute Story is from the few hours that I spent with Zameer in the second half of 2019. He showed me around his rented house in Anjuna (where he also demoed his fancy blue light setup) and then took me to a gig where he performed.

He shared with me stories of where he grew up, his earlier corporate jobs, the politics of being a DJ in Goa, the struggles to make money – especially in the first year, and his approach to living life.

‘After ambition ends, then peace begins’, he shared with me during the video interview. That’s why he has avoided having fixed targets in life, he explained.

I hope watching this story brings you some peace. What you do with your ambition, I leave that to you.

I am looking to document lives and thoughts of more artists.

Share this story with artists you know? I’ve expressed my motivation behind this ‘Being an artist’ series in some detail here.

I know we are living under pandemic times. Shooting may be on hold for the months to come. That shouldn’t stop me from at least building up a pipeline of artists to document though, right?

The two other stories already published in this series are on Nimmy – a ceramic / terracotta artist and Waylon – an installation artist (also a landscape designer). Hope you see / have seen them too.

All Initiative Social

A day in the life of civil society volunteers in India, helping the migrants during Covid times.

Correction: In the video, it says Fatorda is in North Goa. It is actually in South Goa.

All Fintech Startups

Can startups help solve the Financial inclusion issue in India?

India has a long way to go before it can call itself financially inclusive. Even for basic financial needs like a loan, insurance or better investment opportunities (than gold), the poor (technically middle-class – the cooks, drivers, vegetable sellers etc.) don’t have access like the rich.

One of the primary reasons they don’t have this access to financial products is because the quantum that they typically need is of low-value, ranging from say few hundred to just few thousand rupees. This 3MinuteStory is on a fin-tech startup – Setu – that tackles this problem head on.

The story structure emerged mostly as a interviewed Sahil, the founder, on a Monday morning in Bangalore. I interviewed not just on-camera but off-camera as well (a lot). In fact, before I added visuals, I created a blank cut with just interviews, music, gaps and my voice-over (given the technical nature of the problem and solution been explained). It took a bit of iterations to add the visual layer, relying mostly on shots of the Setu team working on their laptops and having discussions with each other (some arranged just so that I could get video footage :P). When I was editing this story, some of my earlier footage from a village came in handy too. There were parts where I thought an animation could bring out the concept better and so I went for it. Setu’s design team helped me refine the animation quality once we had the almost final cut. And for some parts, I just licensed stock footage!

This video-story was commissioned by Setu. You can write to me at or to commission me to make similar video-stories.

All Art Artists

Being an artist – Waylon D’Souza

This is the second video that I created for my Being an Artist series. Hope you like it.

All Art Artists Woman-power

Being an artist – Nimmy Joshi

This is the first video in my ‘Being an Artist’ series. The plan is to meet more artists, with different experiences, from different genres, of different genders, beliefs, and put out their stories, their way of life.

There is no one way of being an artist. And being an artist is a valid, genuine career / lifestyle choice. The idea of this ongoing series is so reinforce this perspective.

If you like my work, do subscribe so that I can keep in touch with you via email.

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All Rural India Social Startups

How Indian farmers are finally making profit!

Some basic changes in the approach to farming, is showing dramatic improvements in profitability for thousands of farmers in India. This is that story. I was commissioned by a startup – Bharat Agri, (from IITM juniors) to make it. Hope you like the 3MS.

The folks at Bharat Agri have been doing great work since quite some time, but were struggling to put together a good video that conveyed what they did. A video makes it easier for their sales team to start dialogues with more farmers.

“What is that you don’t like about the videos that you already have”? I ask Sai, the co-founder as we drive to a village to attend a farmers meet. “The audio sucks”, I am explained.

🙂 I hope the audio doesn’t suck in my video. Let me know? Btw, you can also watch the behind the scenes video of how I went about making this 3MS (if that is something you like to watch).

Part 1:

Part 2:

All Education NGO Organization Schools Social

Is this the best use of INR 40 lakh ever? Incredible story of what Saleem did!

Indus Action commissioned me to make a story on this amazing 40 lakh grant that they have to offer to anyone with relevant experience who can commit to work for 3 years for getting underprivileged children to schools. I asked them if there was someone who had already received the grant? They said yes. I suggested we tell that person’s story. They agreed. This is that story. This is Saleem’s story. What exactly did Saleem do with 40 lakh rupees? How do you get underprivileged children to schools? Watch it spread the good word about the grant! Thanks!

All stereotypes

Is Chennai the most stereotyped city in India? You will love this video!

I was commissioned by Chargebee to create a video that could help shatter some of the stereotypes about Chennai. The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. Hope you like what we came up with!

Do remember that many of the participants in this video are from Chennai. Also, for the first few minutes, they are just guessing what Google suggests, and not sharing their own opinion.

Visit to share your views on Chennai as a city to work in.

The year was 2007. Wow, 11 years already! A semester before graduating from IIT Madras, I got placed in PwC, along with many of my class-mates. PwC had (and still has) offices across India. We were asked to share our city of choice with the HR. Almost nobody opted for Chennai. I don’t remember my options now, but it was probably Mumbai. Others asked for Delhi and Hyderabad and Bangalore. But guess what, I and another friend actually got Chennai. There was nothing much we could do about it.

We easily found a flat in T. Nagar without a broker. We loved T. Nagar because there were lot of party places nearby (and the office in Nungambakkam was not too far). Chennai suddenly felt alright. 😀 I had my friends outside of campus and suddenly there was no need to say good bye to them. I had a theatre scene going on (I was acting and all that) and the office was chill. It was a pleasure to not get my hair cut at the boring IIT salon anymore! 🙂

But then, in like less than 2 months, I got a project that took me for a year to Bhubaneswar and eventually I never got to return to Chennai for work. I never thought much about it. Over the last ten years, I have been visiting the city regularly – my work takes me there quite often, and because of my background with Chennai, I never thought much about these stereotypes. So making this video, was very interesting for me. And I totally understand why someone in Delhi or Mumbai would feel ok to move to Bangalore but think 100 times before moving to Chennai – most of it, is in the head for sure! 🙂 Except the heat! 😀 CHENNAI IS HOT!

All Education Organization Schools Social

This is how India is moving away from rote learning! Awesome!

FSG India recently commissioned me to make a video-story on one of their amazing programs that is enabling a nation-wide sustainable transformation of affordable private schools (the lower rung schools in cities where low-income households send their children to). I travelled to Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai for this story, where I interviewed school owners and principals, children (who study in such schools) and their parents and several private players in the early childhood education sector, who for some reason or other, had hitherto never considered selling their innovative teaching modules to such schools, but are doing so now!

India truly needs such initiatives. I am excited that I get to witness such efforts first hand. If you liked this one, you should also watch the story that I created for The Education Alliance earlier – about a similar transformation, but applicable for Municipal schools of Delhi.

All Initiative NGO Rural India Social

Can poverty be solved by giving 1 lakh cash to poor families?, a non-profit, hired me recently to help them bring out the story of why they started this crazy program to offer close to 1 lakh rupees to all families in a village, unconditionally. I have tried to show what the typical perception of most urban Indians is, when it comes to using cash to help poor and why the co-founders of CashRelief don’t necessarily agree with the predominant narrative. This video-story would help them in raising funds for expanding this pilot in different parts of India. I also created a behind the scenes video from the few days that I spent in the village in Rajasthan, where the pilot has been rolled out!

This was a pretty stimulating experience for me. When I first heard of the program, I was both excited (because something like this was never done in India before) and skeptical – how will something like this ever work? In fact, it was my idea that I should meet some of the funders of this program to ask them why they agreed to be a part of this? And that day of meetings with many of them, did make it easy for me to understand their thought process and why this experiment deserves a fair chance! That’s pretty much what this story is about. What do you think?

Rajasthan, India. 2018. It was a struggle to get this picture right. I am glad I got it right. Ambalal and family are trying to finish their house. There is a flash hidden on the left side (of the photograph) and there is natural light coming from the right. Let me explain why it was challenging to make this photograph. It was a hot day today. This is a small village in Rajasthan. It was so hot that my flash (Godox AD360ii) started acting absurdly and would fire only once in a while. Now I pretty much knew I wanted a picture of the family right here, but without flash this picture wouldn’t look as good as it looks right now. When the flash would fire, the expressions wouldn’t come great and when the expressions were great, the flash wouldn’t fire. But I kept at it, and kept the family smiling to the extent that I could (kids lost interest in my jokes pretty soon). Finally, I got this. And I showed it to them the moment I got it, because I knew I had gotten my shot. Why was I so keen on having the family smile? Because I know they are genuinely happy for the fact that they very recently received a gift of INR 96,000/- from – a first of its kind initiative in India that selects a poor Indian village and grants this much money to each family in the village with no strings attached / no conditions imposed. The money has been pooled together from various rich donors. This village is the first pilot and I am documenting the story as a film-maker. The whole photography thing, is just a side thing. I do have something interesting in mind, for some of these pictures though! 🙂 Ambalal and his family put most of the money they were gifted to finish this house that had been under construction for over two years now. It is very difficult for the poor to save / raise enough money to build a ‘pakka’ house. From what I have observed in this village of 34 people so far is, those who have started building a house, are using the money to finish it. Those who have a house, but no animals, buy cattle. Those who have cattle, buy other stuff from a motorcycle (to ease their commute) to a fridge in a small shop.

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This is Hiralal, and his wife. They are blushing because I asked them to imagine themselves as newlywed. 34 families live in the village where Hiralal lives. Most of them own farming land but are able to produce only enough to consume themselves. There is little money to be made / saved. When there is no farming work to do, all the villagers go for daily wage which fetches them between 200 to 300 rupees per day. On an average, the monetary wealth they can create in a year is about 50,000 rupees. But how does it matter? Every villager wants to have a safer, better house that doesn’t collapse in rain. And a house like that costs anywhere between 1 to 2 lakh if not higher. So it takes villagers like Hiralal five to six years to build a decent house, that could have been built in six months. The house you see behind them is that house, btw. Eventually everyone takes loan from somewhere or other, mostly at absurdly high interest rates (upto 10% per month) and live a poor life, all their lives. As part of new program initiated by a private entity (cashrelief dot org), close to 1 lakh rupees was given to Hiralal and each family in the village – all the 34 of them – to see what they do with that money if there are no strings attached and no conditions imposed. Hiralal already had a decent house, so he bought a buffalo. He still has 70k left. He says, the first priority now is to make a shed for the animal. And then the two of them will figure out what next to do with the money. He really wants to figure out how to double the amount that he has received. Many others used significant portion of the money to pay off their extremely costly debts. Others put that in finishing their house (thus freeing up productive man-years for the family). It’s been less than a month that this money was transferred to the families. #documentary #story #stories #rajasthan #ruralindia #photojournalism #documentaryphotography #3ms #3minutestories #couple #strobe #ruralcouple #bharat #cashforrelief #ruralstories

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