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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 25:

Snehasish Das, documentary and short films maker, reminisces being a cue boy for his father Paresh Das. He was drawn into the creative world of light, action, stage, actors, play, audience at a very young age, by his father a diehard theater, television and radio artist. Hailing from a middle class Odia family, his only option after graduating was to secure a suitable job.

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In pursuit of his dream, he did his masters in History followed by a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Utkal University. His first stint with a travel agency in 2000 did not excite him so it was pack up time for Delhi for greener and exciting pastures.

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A second Master’s degree in journalism from the reputed Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan helped him connect with many people. Lady luck smiled when he met Richard Mahapatra, managing editor of Down to Earth. A stint as an intern turned into a contractual job and put him in Down To Earth, the environmental magazine published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi. A close friend of Das– Animesh Roul ,‎ Analyst, South Asian Affairs – ‎Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict, New Delhi, helped him with the idea for the documentary Lake of Despair, based on the dismal shrinking of the Dal Lake. Animesh also gave a token amount of Rs 2000 which helped Snehasis buy a ticket for his trip to Kashmir.

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Sajjad Khan, friend and cameraman, had assured Snehasish he would not  charge for the assignment and provide him with free lodging and transport. On a December night, just armed with a paltry amount of money he landed in Lal Chowk. Curfew was imposed in Kashmir and an eerie silence prevailed when he reached the city at around 10.30 pm. He could not connect to Sajjad as mobile network jammers were put into action. The scariest moment of his life was waiting to happen when he encountered the heavily armed army personnel who shot a bunch of obvious queries about his purpose of visit to the trouble-hit city. To his sheer luck, Sajjad’s unexpected and timely intervention bailed him out of the situation.

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The sanction of forty thousand rupees loan from the J&K Bank was a life saver for making of the documentary Lake Of Despair. Padmashree Shameema Dev Azad a prominent singer and wife of Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir ,lent her voice for the film. In 2004, The Lake of Despair, conservation of Dal Lake was screened in Jivika film festival and was highly appreciated.

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Making short films is a passion. Shot on shoestring budgets, using a DSLR camera and taking human stories as scripts, Snehasish has worked wonders. Monetary profit is very less and is usually funded mostly by NGOs, agencies like Wealthhungerhilfe and others. Money saved from the prize money is invested back into making of other films.We Can Walk Together got an award of 50,000 in We Care film festival. This prize money went into making the animated film Thirsty Crow, a film on climate change and traditional water harvesting technology which was screened at the Fica (Festival International de Cinema e Video Ambiental) Film Festival, Brazil.

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The three short films that have been nominated for the Golden Sun Short Film Festival to be held in Malta from January 4 to 12 are – React Aloud which showcases how women should come forward and fight against crimes committed against them, Catch Me If You Can revolves around the importance of water conservation for farmers, and A for Apple a social commentary on child labour focuses on the role of a community in ensuring safe childhood. 

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He has made thirty documentaries and twenty short films till date. Many of his films have been selected for various international and national film festivals. Let’s Bicycle Together was selected for the India International Disability Film Festival held in Chennai this October. He is currently working on another short film Spandan that deals with organ donation where Odia actress Gargi Mohanty, who recently won a state film award for her role in Krantidhara, will play a pivotal role. In this flm, she has to come to terms where she has to make a major decision of donating all the organs of her comatose husband. This will be screened on World Kidney Day which is observed on the second Thursday of March.

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Among other assignments, Snehasish is currently working on a documentary based on the revival of traditional millet (mandia).