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Ashvin Kumar is an Indian director, producer, and writer, whose prominent works include a number of feature-length films, documentaries, and short films. He was born in Kolkata in 1973 to well-known fashion designer and Padma Shri awardee Ritu Kumar and Shashi Kumar. He has won 2 National Awards along with various film festival awards. He was the youngest Indian director, at the age of 32, to be nominated for an Academy Award. He was the first to be nominated for the European Film Academy and now is a voter of BAFTA and European Film Academy. Ashvin Kumar did his schooling in Kolkata at the La Martiniere Kolkata Modern School and also at The Doon School, Dehradun.
He was a member of the Shakespeare Society at St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, Goldsmith’s University, London where he completed a bachelor’s degree in media and communication and for a short while at the London Film School. He decided to move to London due to the lack of opportunities for short films in Delhi. Kumar dropped out of the London Film School and invested his course fees into the making of his first movie ‘Road to Ladakh’ which was released in 2004. Though the shooting of the film took a mere 16 days, the release occurred after a period of 9 months during which Ashvin learned the ins and outs of production and post-production.
His experiences in making the movie were later released as ‘The Near Un-Making of Road to Ladakh’. The film stars Irrfan Khan and was shot in Spiti Valley, Ladakh. His second film Little Terrorist was a 15-minute long short film released in 2005. The film received critical acclaim at the international level and won various film festival awards. It was nominated for an Oscar in the short film category only to lose out to the ‘Wasp’ by Andrea Arnold. It was also screened at over 130 film festivals worldwide. The film was shot in 5 days in Rajasthan based on the true story of a Pakistani boy who accidentally crossed the border into India.
His first feature-length film was an ecological thriller based on Jim Corbett’s exploits called The Forest and it was released in 2012. The film gave a strong pro-environment message and was primarily shot in the Corbett National Park. Kumar released Dazed in Doon in 2010, at the request of The Doon School. The movie was prevented from releasing by the school itself on the grounds of there being an unfavorable portrayal of the school. The film was later released online in 2013. For his first documentary Inshallah Football, Kumar won the National Award for Best Film on Social Issues.
The film which was completed in 2010 faced difficulties with respect to the censor certification. It was ultimately awarded an A (Adult) Certification due to mentions of torture in the Kashmir-oriented film. The film was in relation to the real-life story of an upcoming footballer who was denied a passport by the Government of India due to his father being a militant. Consequently, his next documentary Inshallah Kashmir was released online in 2012.
The film which has various descriptions of torture and mentions of political and religious issues was hence awarded an A-certificate by the censor board. The film won the National award for Best Investigative Film. At present, Ashvin is working on Noor, a suspense thriller about a mother bringing her daughter, Noor, back to Kashmir and about how the Noor works towards uncovering the truth about her missing father. Kumar is also working on Hype which is a film about materialistic pleasures which are given importance to by modern day youth in direct contrast to the traditional vibes of the movie’s backdrop, which is New Delhi.
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