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The Lucky Filmmaker: 9 Questions with Nitin Madan

The 2010 film, ‘Colin Hearts Kay’ was described by critics as being sweet, quirky, funny – and it won accolades at film festivals across the U.S. But the journey has been a learning experience, says the film’s maker – and he’s full of advice for students planning to follow in his footsteps.
BY Gayatri Verma |   02-04-2013
Nitin Madan at the OG’13 Conference in New Delhi in Feb. 2013

Filmmaker Nitin Madan completed his masters from Columbia University's film school in New York, and has been writing, producing and directing for cinema and television, in India and the United States for over 20 years. In 2009, he co-founded Got Lucky Pictures and produced his first feature film, the 2010-release ‘Colin Hearts Kay’". Madan’s documentary work has included subjects such as India’s greatest painter MF Husain, legendary Swiss- French architect Le Corbusier and contemporary New York painter Russell Connor. And the man of all trades has even taught a course in Indian cinema titled, "India at 24 Frames per Second” at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. And he’s also got his hands in the Bollywood pie.

So what influenced his journey – and what advice does he have to offer those students wanting to go abroad? Braingainmag.com asked him 9 questions, and here’s what he said:

1.        What made you want to leave India for studies?

To put it succinctly, mother said.

2.        Most memorable (good or bad) experience while studying abroad?

Freedom of thought. For the first time I was studying a subject that I loved in a system that allowed me to perform to my actual potential. Being good at what I was pursuing was such a game changer for me.

3.        What do you remember packing to take with you that was particularly useful?

A very comfortable pair of chappals (shoes). The student life is a frugal one and I would have never bought myself that pair there. My photographs of my family also kept me going.

4.        How did you land up in your particular career?

I’ve always felt I wasn’t good enough to do anything else. That brings with it a feeling that failure is just not an option because there is no Plan B. I was an actor and back in the day that career had very little potential in Delhi, and I knew I was too soft for Mumbai. But I’ve also always believed that if you really want to do something, then you should do it as a career. So I found directing, which enabled me to work in films, which I’ve always been passionate about, just not in front of the camera.
 
5.        Tips for a young student leaving India for studies, for the first time?

Rather than go with preconceived ideas, it’s more important to have clarity of mind or a mission, and then find ways of solving that mission of even finding an entirely new one along the way. Also, there’s no such thing as using too much deodorant!
 
6.        Things about India you miss when abroad?

When I first left India in 1993, I initially missed feeling a sense of belonging. I felt that I stood out, not because of my looks, but because I was now in a place where the cultural influences were so alien to me. But the more I think about it, those might just have been my own issues because many of my peers didn’t seem to feel that way.

7.        Things about India you DON’T miss when abroad?

India’s system of education which I feel is based on competition and humiliation. It is a system in which failure is intolerable yet so much of it is about failure.

8.        What do you do for fun/downtime?

I’m a film buff. I recently greatly enjoyed the Bollywood film ‘Love Shove Te Chicken Khurana’ and Hollywood's ‘Argo’. Another favourite is ‘A Late Quartet’, and one of my favourite films of all time is Edward Chang's 'Yi-Yi'. 

9.        What would you put in Orwell’s Room 101 given a chance?

My own personal baggage and mental blocks that have often constrained my growth. 
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