Mansi Sharma in a tete-a-tete with Pankaj Johar
on his new documentary film – STILL STANDING
Hi Pankaj. Could you please tell our readers more about yourself?
I am a qualified accountant, but have been a TV producer throughout my professional life. I tried writing a few scripts along with my day job but kept wondering when to take the plunge and what story to convert into my first film. It finally happened when I became an executive producer for my friend Hemant Gaba’s first feature film in 2008. It was then that I decided to quit my job.
Why documentary filmmaking?
Whereas a film is almost always a narrative structure, documentaries need not necessarily be so. Moreover documentaries are always a personal work and depiction of a real life situation. Moreover, I needed to make the film now, and with the kind of budget I had, it would have taken me years before I could think of treating the subject I had in the form of fiction or commercial cinema.
What is Still Standing about?
Still Standing is the story of my father. I would like to call it an awe-inspiring story of courage, determination and the unbreakable spirit of a man who defied all odds after doctors pronounced him hundred percent disabled. Paralysed from below the neck and bedridden for the last 24 years, he has been helping other disabled people stand on their feet and become self reliant. The film takes us on an incredible journey of a man who not only won over his own disability, but has become a ray of hope for other disabled people in India. It follows a few disabled individuals after they come into contact with him and the effect it has on their lives.
Your film looks out to positivity, hope and the will to overcome all odds. Do you think it will provide people with the option of looking at life in an alternative way?
Definitely. My father has made me realise that anything you can dream of in this world is possible, that it’s within us to turn any calamity and tragedy around and gain some positivity from it. During the film my father says, “Life is like a blank cheque. It’s up to us what we want to write in that cheque and encash it”. That says it all. Even if a big tragedy eclipses our life there is always an alternate way.
Any more projects coming up? When can we expect more heart-lifting films from you?
I have a couple of subjects in mind but right now our objective is to take this film to as wide an audience as possible. We are hoping to get positive response from some film festivals.
STILL STANDING is India’s only documentary film entry in the prestigious OUFF (Ourense International Film Festival). This is a motivational story of a man who had a will to survive and a vision to follow. We at JAM salute his father’s relentless and indomitable resolution to overcome all odds.
The film is listed on IMDB and Facebook. You can also catch the trailers on YouTube.