I’m Santu

A Storyteller. A Photographer.
A Filmmaker.

From a backbencher who was every teacher’s nightmare to a graduate from a film school where even Spielberg got rejected thrice, my journey has been an artist’s delight.

I started off as an IT Engineer in Bengaluru, my hometown. In the first two years of college, I learned two things. One, engineering was not something I was doing with all my heart. And two, (much to my parents’ dismay) if not rich, I’d at least be a happy man if I made photographs for the rest of my life. But like any responsible Indian child, I finished my degree in 2009 (in all sincerity, to my surprise!). And then went ahead to pursue photography full time.

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To study at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, L.A. is a coveting opportunity rewarded to a select few storytellers from across the world. Aspiring students have to go through a rigorous screening for both talent and intent. And then, 2% of the total applicants get admitted to the University. In 2012, I set my heart upon learning the art of filmmaking and of course, I was aiming for the stars. With a background in IT, I thought maybe I was overstepping a little, but that never stopped me from applying. The university, amongst many other things, required submitting a photo story with a 6 picture limit. This is when I created my first ever photo narrative, The Last Straw.

Right after completing engineering, I ventured into commercial and wedding photography. It brought in money and I was elated to finally have the opportunity to do what I loved doing. So one day I was photographing a friend’s lush green coffee estates or clicking wedding pictures in a nearby city, and a couple of months later, I was in L.A., learning Film & Television Production under some of the most influential filmmakers! I’m talking about the men and women who appear ordinary, they’d even make banter with you if you are around them. But back at home, they decorate their shelves with Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmys.

Not only the faculty, even my seniors were some big names of Hollywood. I vividly remember stepping in the college for the first time and reveling over the fact that I will be studying in the same classrooms that once accommodated personalities like Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther or George Lucas, the maker of Star Wars. At the moment, I wondered if I’d fit in. I was at my most vulnerable when I joined film school. But I held strong, carving the nervousness into a passion. For I knew this was it. This was my dream come true, something I had waited all my life. It was now or never. And I decided to make the most of it.

So for the next 4 years, I gave my heart, mind, and soul to filmmaking. And the least I could say is that it paid off well. I made documentaries, short films, and even feature-length movies. Some of these were featured at prestigious film festivals like the Annual Cleveland International Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival to name a few.