Atman Ramchalavan is a film maker of Indian origin, currently based out of the Netherlands. NRI Achievers connected with him to get his takes on India, his efforts to get back to his roots, and his plans for the future. We reproduce here excerpts of the conversation we had with him, where he tells us about himself, and what he wants to do.
“Although I am a NRI and live far away from Indian shores, I am still very much an Indian at heart. So much so that I am at present involved in making a documentary on my roots in Balia, UP. Deep down, I have this feeling today that I have so far been successful enough in my mission of decoding my roots. I did manage to get some information from the National Archive of London, which helped. And I have gathered lots of material before getting back to the Netherlands. I do hope that I’ll finish this well on time.
“I have Janethan Yadav to thank for this, for he helped me in locating all my relatives and my Dada, Dadi et al. I for one am quite glad to have found my ancestral roots, from both my maternal and paternal sides. It took me more than one and half years seeking clues and linkages, before finally tracing my roots back to the actual village in Balia. As you are aware, there are literally millions of people like me living in the Fiji Islands, Mauritius, Surinam etc., most of whom are in the same boat as me. At our ancestral place, though, I found people are unwilling to reveal their records, fearing as they do for claims about their properties and land.
“On my personal side, I went Paris, upon getting a scholarship from French Government to study Cinematography. That was followed by another scholarship I got from the US Government, and I went to California to do an advanced course in Photography, where I learnt how to shoot from Helicopters. After completion of my course, I returned to Paris, and then came here to the Netherlands. I have applied for a subsidy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for documentary making & am also looking for grants.
“My better half is an artist and painter, who keeps herself busy by organizing exhibitions.
“I have travelled a lot, and from my point of view, Indian cities like Mumbai and Delhi are quite well developed, and Patna is fast evolving into a metropolis in its own right. But places in rural India like Balia and Chhapra do not have electricity, water, sanitation, basics. It takes hours to reach these places.
“I belong to a normal family, and I have established everything in my business on my own. This makes me a satisfied person. I have established a company called the ‘Trigger Films Production Company’. Like I said, I have had occasion to travel across many countries, and I do very much want to give back something to India. For that very purpose, I am in the process of establishing a multimedia company in Noida, UP, to produce Bhojpuri films of high caliber, with infusion of the sort of technology we have in Europe. And I am looking for investors in Europe, who could participate in this venture. In my projects, I propose to take all artists, song-writers, dancers, everyone from UP and Bihar. I also intend to be a dependable resource for film-makers and film-crews from India who want to come to the Netherlands and shoot locales for their projects. I can be of help to them, as I have good contacts with the local Government there. “I try to speak Bhojpori, but not so much Hindi.