If you had a rupee for every time a millennial put ‘wanderlust’ in their social media bio, you’d be able to leave social media for a life that only required you to travel. However, Ashay Gangwar, the founder of Camera and Shorts, a media production house based in Mumbai (and with a B. Tech from IIT Kharagpur) seemed like he knew he was destined for a different path. What happens when the Indian Ministry of Culture comes knocking at your door with a documentary opportunity, right after graduation? You take it, with no second thoughts – which is exactly what Gangwar did.
Gangwar was initially just a kid from the city who would make documentaries and take his camera for a spin, outside of the studio. That passion turned into his “serendipitous” media house (in his words), as he saw a lack of representation for the Indian travel and culture space. Perhaps it has been easier to forget stories from lesser known places and faces in the country, so he decided to showcase the forgotten and hidden by bringing them to life through his lens. The media house, Gangwar said, was more of an escape from studio based fiction shoots. He admitted, “I felt uneasy to work, since there are very few surprises in such organized settings.” His other motive was also to create a talent pool of aspiring filmmakers, giving them a chance to do what they love.
Camera and Shorts has a rather unique way of functioning, with their work process heavy on introspection. A typical day in the field might see them sleeping under the stars with a group of nomads at a gurudwara, or even by the side of the road. One of their films, called “The Unreserved”, was shot in extreme conditions in unreserved compartments of Indian trains, while another film, called “In Search of Rhythm”, stands out for its combination of Tibetan music and visuals. The team isn’t afraid to embrace situations that life presents them with, which also gives their audience an immersive experience of their work.
The two-year old company knows that it’s a young and niche brand, but their associations are as big as they get. Working with housing.com, musafir.com and Madison PR, among other names, Camera and Shorts have had their share of naysayers before they became established. Gangwar and his team hope to break down the sometimes negative perception about the concept of documentaries. “Every time I go out for a project and meet new people in different places, I get to see their perspective on life.” Along with this agenda, he also hopes to minimise cultural ignorance and intolerance in society, as their work progresses. On being asked what he looks forward to in terms of an honest and rewarding media culture in India, Gangwar said, “I hope the word ‘yet’ is replaced with ‘and’,” indicating that he’d like to see a culture where filmmakers like him are encouraged to explore their style of work.