SWIZERLAND
Platform|June - October 2020
SWIZERLAND
AJITPAL SINGH
Hansika Lohani Mehtani
When I sat down to read Ajitpal Singh’s answers to my questions, it struck me that his childhood has been a mixed bag of great joy and deep suffering. It can be clearly divided into two parts—Before & After Operation Bluestar; an event that has deeply affected his life. Having lived in a village in Punjab, walking with buffalos, bathing in the rain and daydreaming; being discriminated against for being a Sikh and moving homes to stay safe, away from his father who had also moved homes to earn a better living for his family.

However there was light at the end of the tunnel for Ajit finding solace in writing and filmmaking. The romance began when he started reading Premchand in school, which later blossomed into filmmaking. He first experimented with shorts and worked for a few German documentaries as well before making his debut feature Swizerland. Here he talks about the same and also a little about his other recent short film, Rammat Gammat.

What drew you to filmmaking?

I didn’t study filmmaking because I didn’t know for many years that this was my calling. I took filmmaking seriously only when I was thirty three years old. Even in college, when I was doing BSc, I spent most of my time reading literature, writing and directing plays. So when I finished graduation I knew that I didn’t want to get into the Air Force, nor did I want to pursue an MBA or MCA. I tried many things - poetry, theatre, photography, animation and making documentary films. I didn’t have focus because I think all I wanted to do was write stories, but I had no command over English—the language in which I studied in college, and the language in which I was reading international literature. Also my command over Hindi had fizzled out. I studied at a Hindi medium school but college in English medium and had thought that after college, I would just try to focus on English as it made one’s prospect of landing a much better job. Slowly I came to the conclusion that if I make films I don’t need to master English or Hindi, I need to master a visual language and I started making experimental short films.

What is it about writing and filmmaking that intrigues you the most?

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June - October 2020