Born in the non-descript village of Chinnagottigallu and brought up in Hindupur, both in Andhra Pradesh, 24-year-old Rajendra Vinod is a name to reckon with in filmmaking today. Back in his native place, few even are aware of the profession called filmmaking. Vinod thinks his biggest achievement is to rise to a point where everyone looks up to him. Son of a railways employee Rajendra Naidu and homemaker Vani Rajendra, Vinod’s sister was married at the age of 13.
This socially shy boy who was very close to his sister, decided to transport himself into a world of fantasy to get over the pain of missing her. “I was 11 then and the fantasy world clicked for me as the characters would all come alive. It is those childhood imaginations that have helped me in a big way in filmmaking,” recalls Vinod. His interest in psychology and mass media also helped. Vinod has done his undergraduate studies and post-graduation in journalism and mass media.
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Small town, big dreams. “If someone is born in a small town, it doesn’t mean he or she is destined to become a software engineer. Neither does it mean that he should be employed in one of the junior positions in any firm in a city. I wanted to break this conventional thinking and landed in Bengaluru to chart my career,” says Vinod.
It was in 2012, Vinod moved to Bengaluru to pursue a M S Multimedia course in Wiztoonz College of Media and Design. The course would automatically give him a chance to make short films. “That was indeed my motivation. It was during my B.Tech. days at the BIT Institute of Technology in Hindupur that I had made up my mind to pursue filmmaking,” says Vinod. Fond of fictional stories right from his childhood, he tries to capture several emotions in his short films.
So far, Vinod has directed ten films as a producer and director (including short films, ad films, and documentaries) and one as producer, all under the banner of his production house, Aarvi Films.
Vinod makes films in languages like Telugu, French, Tamil, Marathi, and English. His documentary ‘Lepakshi’, was dubbed in 11 languages (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, English, French, Gujarati, and Assamese). His English film ‘Change’ entered the Oscar library for its screenplay.
Vinod’s work was recognised and he won awards for his short films. Aarvi Films was adjudged the best production house at the Delhi Shorts International Film Festival in November 2014. Interestingly, the production house is also being considered for a slot by the Limca Book of Records for making films on shoestring budgets of Rs 1 lakh each.
“My films have varied concepts. While ‘As Far As’ and ‘Payanam’ are based on sibling relationships, ‘Fear’ is a horror short film. ‘Over Reaction’ and ‘Exam’ are comedies, and ‘Change’ is based on the philosophy behind the conventional ways of a normal youth. There’s ‘Arani’ is a film on women empowerment, ‘Lepakshi’ focuses on heritage,” says Vinod.
He uses his money, talent and resources to make short films of two to ten minutes. He sends them to various short film festivals and after that they can be viewed on YouTube. Short films are his chosen medium because he can express himself better in them and has more freedom to experiment, unlike feature films where he has to stick to a template.
Vinod aspires to make films on science and religion, like the Aamir Khan starrer PK. “I want to educate people against blind faith and black magic, things which are still very prevalent in our country,” says Vinod.
“My parents are my biggest support system. They have never said no to my dreams and ambitions and I owe every bit of my success to them. They gave me the freedom to think and explore things outside my realm, which gave my imagination wings to fly and achieve my dream. Also, I have a great support system in my friends, who encourage me to follow my dreams,” concludes Vinod.