Goan Roots to Global Screens

Sainath Uskaikar; a name that is gaining recognition in the world of short films

Sainath Uskaikar’s narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the idyllic village of Merces, Goa, where his ancestral roots run deep. Despite early adversity marked by his father’s untimely demise, Sainath’s indomitable mother, Sukanya Uskaikar steered the family to Porvorim, laying the foundation for his educational journey. Excelling in both primary and high school education, he pursued engineering in Goa Engineering College (GEC) at the Electronics and Telecommunications department, but found his true calling eluding him. After earning his engineering degree, Sainath started work at Museum of Goa (MOG). Post that, he sought admission to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for a master’s course. However, despite joining that initially, he was later selected for the master’s program at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Consequently, he made the decision to leave the initial program and pursue his postgraduate degree in the direction department at FTII.

A pivot in his trajectory led Sainath to the world of short films, a decision shaped by diverse influences. Hailing from a family entrenched in the traditional community theatre Kaalotsav, he inherited a legacy passed down through generations. Late Dhananjay Falkhar, his school’s theatre art teacher, recognised Sainath’s potential and nudged him towards the performing arts. The journey into drama continued during his engineering college days, where he founded the GEC Drama Club. The film Dead Poets Society left an indelible mark, inspiring Sainath to embrace a life beyond conventional education, a theme that resonated profoundly with him.

Ideas for his films germinate from his lived experiences, intertwining his personal journey with the narratives he crafts. Every character and storyline in his short films becomes a mirror reflecting facets of his own life, fostering a deeply personal connection between the filmmaker and his creations. Yet, the film industry, whether in the scenic landscapes of Goa or the bustling hub of Mumbai, presents its share of challenges. In Goa, logistical hurdles tested Sainath’s resolve during the production of Wagro. Despite these obstacles, he sees immense potential for filmmakers in Goa, given its picturesque locales and rich cultural tapestry. Financial constraints, a lack of audience reception, and the absence of a robust film culture pose challenges in the state.

Sainath stresses the need for developing a Konkani film culture through clubs and orientation groups, envisioning a platform for Goan stories to resonate with a broader audience. Beyond the challenges, Sainath’s passion for film-making fuels a mission to foster a thriving film culture in his hometown. Through the lens of his camera, he aspires to elevate Konkani cinema, inviting audiences to embark on a visual journey that resonates not just with Goans but with storytellers and film enthusiasts worldwide.

When asked, about the one film that holds a special place in his heart; Sainath says, “It has to be Wagro. When I made Wagro, I was totally unaware of all the things that are peripheral to the film. All I wanted to do was tell a short story very innocently. I got a bunch of friends together; we completed it in 60 hours and came back. It was like an adventurous job looking back where we didn’t know what was coming, but we just got in that adventure! While making Wagro, I was going through that emotion very strongly, the concept of the film was straight from my lived experiences and it came very naturally to me and that is like my first child. It absolutely has a very special place in my heart.” The film’s global reach provided Sainath with confidence and validation in the unpredictable world of film-making. “My experience, if done innocently, can resonate with people around the globe,” he adds.

For aspiring film-makers, Sainath offers a valuable piece of advice, “It is very important to not think too much about the film but to make the film, because we keep thinking about the difficulties we will face while making the films, and we eventually end up not making the film. Now at this juncture of digital age, we have great phones in which we can shoot videos and pictures as good as the camera lens, you have editing software available at your disposal very easily and you have so many tutorials and knowledge for logistics. Today, everyone is interested in making reels; deep inside everyone wants to become an actor or content creator, now people are actually interested to get in front of the camera. I think we should strive in these things and look at the positives and always think about making the film, just go and do it.”

Sainath’s journey from a small Goan village to a filmmaker making waves in the industry exemplifies the transformative power of passion and resilience. Through his lens, he captures not only personal experiences but also the essence of Goan culture, hoping to inspire the next generation of film-makers to tell their stories with authenticity and courage. As they say, “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.” Sainath not only embraces this philosophy but lives it through each film, where his soulful brushstrokes create narratives that resonate universally. Sainath navigates the cinematic terrain, he leaves us with the profound understanding that the art of storytelling transcends time and space, connecting us all through the shared human experience.

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