Posted on July 19, 2021 at 2:24 pm

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Living in the Moment: Manahar Kumar’s Approach to Filmmaking

Manahar Kumar

For Student Emmy award winner Kumar, he believes that filmmakers have to be open to collaborating with others, and allow the natural magic of cinema to produce the film. 

As an actor and filmmaker, Kumar has relied on his instincts for all of his films. Although Kumar began his career in engineering, it was after doing theater that he realized film was something he wanted to take up as his career. 

“Post college, we would have theater practices every single day from 5 pm to 10 pm”, he said. With this consistent habit of practices and performances, Kumar decided that he would start creating and acting in films full time. 

Kumar’s student Emmy award winning documentary, “Kya Dekh Rahe Hain”, is a short documentary detailing children living in poverty. The film follows a few children who sell bottles for small amounts of money, just to survive. 

Manahar Kumar

All of Kumar’s films are largely social impact films, which each have a unique message to the audience. When asked about his decision to take on this genre of films, Kumar explained that they were stories he didn’t plan. 

They were speaking to my soul … my plan was just to showcase the story in the best entertaining manner possible,” he said. 

Kumar goes on to say that social impact films are a great medium in which a filmmaker can play with the rules they have been previously taught. He explains that this is a genre where directors have the ability to decide how they want to portray a certain topic, and how that might be received by the audience. 

In the beginning of Kumar’s filmmaking journey, photography played a pivotal role in jumpstarting his career. 

Kumar describes a critical moment in his career when he saw Daniel Day Lewis’ photo in Time Magazine. 

“There was this thick red border on Time magazine with his headshot on it … and time magazine had this headline of the greatest actor in the world. This intrigued me a lot,” he said. 

Manahar Kumar

To Kumar, Time Magazine had been a classic publication, and their outright statement of Lewis’ acting stuck with him. In his eyes, this was the beginning of his filmmaking journey, and henceforth, whatever he wanted to attract, Kumar started to receive those opportunities. 

When reflecting on his career so far, Kumar states that the hardest part of filmmaking was when he pursued his masters degree. In his eyes, this was when he found his own voice. 

“You don’t want to restrict yourself and you want to learn as much as you want to learn and henceforth, realize what kind of stories you want to narrate,” Kumar said. 

He explains that filmmakers and directors must put in the time to create their pieces, and act as creative sponges: they should be open to whatever is naturally happening around them. Kumar says that developing the art of listening helps oneself tune in with their instincts, and not doubt it. 

In addition to absorbing everything around you, Kumar says that once a director finds the people they love working with, they should try to stick with them, and allow that chemistry to grow. 

The true tough journey that you go forward with is about the journey to find your collaborators and artists you want to collaborate with,” Kumar says. 

As a writer, Kumar is also an avid reader, and says that Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” is one of his favorite books, because he can connect it back to his literary process. 

“The way she describes writing and the whole creative process shows that we don’t have to look at work or writing in such a serious manner,” Kumar said. 

Social impact filmmakers, like Kumar, are continuing to work through the pandemic to provide eye-opening films to their audiences. In addition to his Student Emmy award winning film “Kya Dekh Rahe Hain”, his film “Badlaav Republic”, which highlights the importance of educating women in rural India, is also in the film festival circuit.

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