Born and brought up in a small remote village of district Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India, Ajay became fascinated by cinema when he saw TV for the first time at the young age of 11. During his college, his passion for cinema motivated him to join theatre, where he started his career in acting. Unsure about where to begin his career after college, the same passion brought him to Delhi, where he joined the TV industry as an editor. While at working with many TV channels in various capacity, he learnt about editing, camera, directing etc and also pursued his masters in mass communication & journalism. During his stint with TV industry, he made couple of independent documentaries focusing on socio-cultural issues, one of which titled ‘Upaasmar’ is about deaths due to malnutrition among children, in the tribal region of the state of Maharastra (India). The documentary was screened in various film festivals and appreciated worldwide.
Moving Back to The Roots
While majority of filmmakers start their career from Mumbai, however for Ajay, the dream of launching the non existent pahari cinema, brought him back to his roots. Ajay, strongly believes in the power of cinema and the desire to preserve and promote the fast disappearing Himachali language and culture, using cinema as the medium, motivated him to set up his production house ‘ Silent Hill Studio’ in Himachal Pradesh in 2014.
Regional languages and their associated cultures are fast disappearing, and have become a prominent challenge in this highly connected world. Same is also true with pahari language(s) and culture and it’s one of the issues which troubled me since college, when even the theatre play I used to perform in, were based on western concepts.
I also have seen cinema as one medium which has not only preserved the regional languages, but also have promoted them across the global boundaries. Since the theatre days, I envisioned to address this challenge by producing a film in Himachal and that too in Himachali language. Saanjh is the first feature film in ‘Himachali’ language, in the 100yrs of history of Indian cinema.
Working on Saanjh have been a difficult journey for me as no financier was ready to invest in unknown territory i.e. Himachali language film, and also only a few cinema halls exists in Himachal. Managing funds and the production on my own has been the biggest challenge I faced and now that when the film is ready to release, it has generated a lot of expectations among people from Himachali community and they are eagerly waiting for the film, which is very exciting.
As being a debut film, Saanjh is an emotional journey for me. This film has already given me a lot of learning from arranging finances for the film to producing, directing and the cinematography.