I was on vacation in India when I visited my aunt and the temple she manages. I had gone around the time of afternoon to spend a day with her. Annadanam (sacred tradition of offering food) was being provided to some kids from a nearby school in the temple premises. It was a ritual every Thursday in the temple. I vividly remember the faces of those kids. It was filled with immense joy and excitement. But what touched me more was the extreme satisfaction and happiness in my aunt’s face seeing the kids eat to their heart’s content. The ambiance was filled with an unexplainable tranquility. Till then, I just knew that my aunt was a pious person and she through the support of many people had constructed the Sai Baba temple with the motive of helping the needy. But, when I came to know the reasons due to which this temple was formed and the work that it has undertaken to give back to the society, I instantly knew that I had to take this out to the broader section of society, and there was only one way I knew to do that – cinema.
My job began at the conception of the story on how this temple was formed. The major challenge was shooting. I had only a few days at hand, I had to fly back to Singapore in 3 days. I spoke to my aunt and arranged to meet the temple committee to understand the work of the temple and some of the devotees who had miraculous stories to share about the temple. I used to stay almost 40 kms away from the temple and travelled daily for these 3 days to get as much footage as possible of the temple. Once I had the footage, the next challenge was to think of a way to put this across in the best possible manner. It was during this time that I had met this very dynamic guy who was already an acclaimed author, actor and martial artist. He had superior voice quality and an excellent command over the language. I did not have to think twice before I approached Sreyus Palliyani to shoulder the responsibility of this project as a narrator. Sreyus is the soul of this project, and his expressive narration took this documentary to a different level. The next task was selecting music and editing. I had gone through hundreds of music libraries before I narrowed down to the music which I thought aptly fit my documentary. As I did not have a team, I had worn the hat of director, camera man, music compiler and finally the editor. The quality of the final product came up to my expectations considering my limitations on resources.
The final task was to think on the title for this documentary. I did not intend to promote any shrine, religion, caste or creed through this documentary. I had to get this message across clearly. My whole and sole purpose to make this documentary was to spread the message of helping our society in means that is best possible to each one of us. If a normal school teacher could make such a huge impact by constructing a temple, feeding hundreds of kids every week and doing immense charitable services to the society, we are no different. All that we have to do is to give a listening ear to that inner call within us, it may change at least one person’s life. And that is precisely why I titled the project “Awakening” – a humble effort to present an inspirational story of a woman who stands as a great example before society just because she listened to her inner call. Many contacted me telling that they were emotionally touched and assured that they will try whatever is possible in their means to help the needy, and this, I consider as my humble success.
Watch the documentary Awakening :