Das Kahaniyaan – 6 – Lights, Camera, Action! In conversation with Siddhartha Bedi
Siddhartha Bedi is a filmmaker, writer and director. In September of 2020, his short film ‘My Sister and Hand-me-downs’ gained massive acclaim. The Instagram stories of young people, writers and art enthusiasts were collectively filled with shares and re-shares of his perfectly symmetrical, color-coordinated, almost-dreamily-crafted film. This was the first piece of his series ‘Sidling & Sibling’. In our conversation, we discussed his journey from an aspiring actor to a filmmaker, his insights on finding his own genre & inspirations, and how young budding filmmakers can grow with their art.
Tracing the beginning of his interest in the world of cinema – Bedi credits two of his friends: one, who instilled in him the idea of cinema as a broader entity outside of the mainstream; and the other, who introduced him to Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Watching the film, Heath Ledger’s immersive performance drew Bedi in. Keeping in mind his ability to cry on cue while persuading his parents and having the “looks for it” – he was sure that acting was his calling. For three years, he pursued theatre at a collegiate level. He says, “It was there that I realised that I’m actually a bad actor. Crying on cue at home and crying in front of an audience are entirely different things.” Exploring newer aspects of theatre, he directed a play that went on to do quite well. It was after this, that with the help of his peers, he realised his knack for directing.
Siddhartha categorises his genre as a slice of life. He credits the people around him and relations he forms with them as his main inspiration. He believes in “crafting moments particular to life and one’s experiences”.
Acknowledging the way the pandemic brought the world and so many people’s lives to a halt, he expresses his gratitude that most of the difficulties he faced due to the pandemic were in the sphere of his work. He recounts how it actualised as a boon for him and allowed him the unique opportunity to work and grow as an artist. Now, however, almost two years into the pandemic, the executive difficulties of being a filmmaker are worsened by distances and travel restrictions.
The praise and success that ‘Sidling and Sibling’ garnered was a “welcome surprise” for the filmmaker. The experience of making the series was one that entailed learning and growth. However, after having gained such traction, it’s not numbers and algorithmic statistics he focuses on. Quoting lines from modern-day Bollywood classics like Om Shanti Om and 3 idiots, he tells us that it’s always the art and the effort put into it which sits at the forefront.
His advice to young budding filmmakers is twofold. Firstly, to study and absorb as much information as they can. Our education systems can often make us complacent in our pursuit of knowledge, he observes. Doing well in any art form – theatre or film comes after meticulously studying and observing nuances and predecessors. Film school isn’t compulsory for all aspiring filmmakers – he advises young people to download books in form of PDFs, watch video essays on Youtube and immerse themselves in the various art forms. Secondly, he emphasises the inherent human proclivity to tell stories. He says, “All of us have a voice, it’s a voice deep within us who wants to tell stories. It can be observed when, as kids, we narrate our summer vacations to our peers.” All of us have different ways of telling our stories, Bedi believes. Some are erratic, some logical, and some do it with an added dash of humor. The key to filmmaking is “finding that voice, capturing it and presenting it in film.”