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August - September 2007
Shruti Bhardwaj - Searching for peace and perfection in the world of cinemaBorn in Kenya, Shruti came to England with her parents and spent her early childhood in an affluent part of North West London. Growing up in a prosperous Indian business family with traditional Hindu values, Shruti admits, it was a sheltered life. However, it imbibed in her certain values, which have helped her in pursuing her intellectual and artistic career. After graduating from the University College London, she went to study at the Bocconi in Milan and later at the Film school at the University College, Los Angeles (UCLA).
It was a documentary film ‘Post Military Trip (P.M.T.), written, directed and produced by Shruti that intrigued me. I watched the documentary twice; and was astounded to note the three-dimensional span of the film. Shruti explains that in the film she was attempting to illuminate the interface between Indian and Western culture with particular reference to music, rhythm and dance. She did succeed in that to a large extent. However, her first successful attempt in making a documentary tells a lot about her own personality and her priorities in life.
The documentary depicts the influence of music, especially ‘trance music’ on Israeli soldiers who face death and destruction every hour of their life. The reason for their frequent retreat to Goa in India for peace and tranquillity; and in trance music parties, is described by the soldiers themselves in their laconic phrases that are at once touching and convincing. The overall impact of the film transcends the unsavoury realities of a war-torn region, which clamours for peace. Shruti’s film gives us a glimpse of a transitory spiritual experience that emanates from ugly and gruesome situations. Trance music, in this case, is the catalyst
“Was this document an adventurous journey or an outcome of committed professionalism”? I asked Shruti.
“When in January 07, the film was screened at Hillel UCLA, there was a Q & A session and I was asked the same question. To me the production of the film was a challenge. I have been there in Israel, in the Middle East and in Goa. It was hazardous but worthwhile. My experiences have taught me a lot. I passionately believe in the power of film to contribute to the global peace dialogue that is now emerging in the Middle East”, said Shruti with calm but confident voice.
“You depict Israeli soldiers going for trance music parties. Was it escapism or sublimation”?
“Both. In the initial stages, it seemed to be escaping from the trauma of war; but later on, it (trance music experience) sublimates your feelings to the extent that you forgive all. You begin to crave for peace.” said Shruti, lowering her voice into a whisper.
“Of course. I was in Mumbai recently, met many film artists. However, mainly it is in Hollywood that I see my professional expertise coming to fruition. Bollywood is interesting. Dancing, music and basic Indian values are always there. However, Hollywood is the place where I have made a small niche for myself. I would like to connect West to India and vice versa. Bollywood has so much to give. I would like to be one of the connecting links between the two great film industries in my own small way,” said Shruti modestly.
I asked Shruti about many other things relating to her personal life. After all, marriage is important to an Indian girl brought up in a Hindu Vedic dharma-following family. She brushed them aside with a smile; and confessed that her Indian values remain the guideline in her pursuit of producing more interesting documentary features and films. Her next project, she confided in me, is about Japanese women. She is fascinated by their way of living; and she wants to make a documentary about them.
Good luck! Shruti.