“A Day in the Life” with Toronto Director Vikram Dasgupta

Vikram Dasgupta is my brother’s son but I got to know him well only after he had taken a reckless leap from his safe, comfortable parental home in Delhi to Canada to pursue filmmaking some twenty years ago. I used to see him briefly during my trips home from Sweden and knew him as a chubby kid, though lovable and generous to a fault but his future seemed very bleak as he had absolutely no interest in studies, nor any particular skills.

His desire to make films however had been seeded in his childhood by films of Satyajit Ray, the filmmaker who put India on the world map with his realism and cinematic aesthetics. While Vikram’s inspiration for making films came from Ray, the art of story-telling came from his grandma. She kept him entranced with stories from Indian mythologies, village life from her childhood and folk tales. Vikram’s little hungry brain absorbed the tales as well as the style of her storytelling. She had raised her six children with similar stories – but Vikram retained them and got storytelling hardwired into his intellectual being. School did not interest him as there was nothing in the rigid curricula that could feed his purpose or provide the tools for expression. While in high school, he found ways of expressing himself through magic shows as a young illusionist captivating the audience with his tricks. Upon finishing high school, he decided to study fine arts in Calcutta University to understand composition and storytelling through a singular frame, a painting. There he worked on his ability to visualize stories but filmmaking apparently requires state of the art techniques that were not commonly available in India, which brought him to Canada.

What amazes me the most is Vikram’s ability to see stories everywhere; he can visualize them at their simplest level of abstraction while constructing a visual form rooted in human feelings and emotions.

Rest is still unfolding.

Bio written by Santanu Dasgupta (Paternal Uncle)
Uppsala, Sweden

Vikram listening to stories, sitting on his Grandmother's lap - New Delhi, India
Vikram Dasgupta listening to stories, sitting on his Grandmother’s lap – New Delhi, India
Vikram Dasgupta - Home @ Queen East - Toronto, Canada
Vikram Dasgupta – Home @ Queen East – Toronto, Canada
Vikram Dasgupta @ a coffee shop, Queen East - Toronto, Canada
Vikram Dasgupta @ a coffee shop, Queen East – Toronto, Canada
Regent Park shoot for Mustafa the Poet, Toronto
Regent Park shoot for Mustafa the Poet, Toronto
Vikram Dasgupta - Beyond Moving Documentary - Vikram Dasgupta and Siphe November, Zolani, South Africa
Vikram Dasgupta – Beyond Moving Documentary – Vikram Dasgupta and Siphe November, Zolani, South Africa
Dogma - Sulakshmi Dasgupta, Vikram Dasgupta & Chris Lew - New Delhi, India
Dogma – Sulakshmi Dasgupta, Vikram Dasgupta & Chris Lew – New Delhi, India
Dogma - Sulakshmi Dasgupta - New Delhi, India
Dogma – Sulakshmi Dasgupta – New Delhi, India
Toronto Symphony Orchestra Documentary - Jerusalem, Israel Francesca Cimolai, Joey Kuzar, Diego Gojjarro, Vikram Dasgupta, Andrew Kines, Christian Bielz, Jeffrey Maher and Esteban Jasper
Toronto Symphony Orchestra Documentary – Jerusalem, Israel
Francesca Cimolai, Joey Kuzar, Diego Gojjarro, Vikram Dasgupta, Andrew Kines, Christian Bielz, Jeffrey Maher and Esteban Jasper

 

 

What ‘hood are you in?

I live in the east end of the city in the Riverdale and Leslieville area. One of my first gigs in Film and Television was at the Toronto Film Studios on Eastern Avenue some 15 odd years back. On my first day at work, I walked over to a Jamaican place with the editor of the show, my good friend Andrew Kines to ‘The Real Jerk’ for some chickpea roti. The area wasn’t so gentrified back then and had a charming rawness to it that I immediately fell in love with. I’m still kickin around in the Queen East and Broadview area.

What do you do?

I fall in love with people and ideas that inspire me. Sometimes, I get lucky enough to make a film about it. I’m not really a genre driven filmmaker, rather a story driven one – so as long as a story moves me, I will pursue it with honesty and gratitude.

What are you currently working on?

We are in the middle of the Canadian release of our feature Documentary Beyond Moving – A story about Siphe November, an extremely gifted dancer from South Africa and his journey to the centre stage of the ballet world.

I’m currently focussing on Dogma – A personal documentary about my own mother who for the past 10 years has been cooking roughly 200 kilos of rice and vegetables every morning, and goes out to feed about 500+ stray dogs in all the major localities of Delhi. In the process she has sold almost all of her material possessions, completely gone bankrupt and isolated herself from most of her family members and friends. What started initially as an intervention film became something a little more layered and more of a visual dialogue between a mother and a son.

Where can we find your work?

My website is www.vikramdasgupta.com

Beyond Moving trailer is at http://www.vikramdasgupta.com/bm-2019 and full film is available to stream through D.O.C.

Dogma details are at http://www.vikramdasgupta.com/dogma-2019

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1953 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography