Jaishankar Aryar

Film Making

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Quick Facts

  • Jaishankar graduated as an automobile engineer, and switched to software in 2014.
  • Minimal dialogues and rural backdrops are a staple in all three of his films.
  • 'Narasimaiahan Phylum' is shot in his hometown, Nelamangala.

Emotions drive my stories. They also demand non-actors.

Authentic filmmaking with humour and warmth

Jaishankar Aryar's first short film was called 'Narasimaiahan Phylum', pronounced fihlam, a rustic Kannada colloquialism of the word ‘film’. The title provides a glimpse of Jaishankar's love for simplicity in cinema.


His maiden feature 'Shivamma' bagged the New Currents Award at the 2022 Busan International Film Festival in October and is sure to be a festival darling this year. Yet the 31-year-old has no qualms in claiming, "I am not a movie buff. I don’t watch movies often."


Jaishankar's affable honesty can be mistaken for overconfidence. However, he has a clear-eyed approach to filmmaking — to sell unique stories through non-actors.


He is among the lakhs of engineers who longed to use their creative minds for cinema. After graduating as an automobile engineer, he switched to software in 2014, working in a US-based company.


"During my free time in office, I would delve into world cinema," says Jaishankar. A handful of films by Iranian greats like Abbas Kiarostami, and Asghar Farhadi, as well as Indian masters like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Ritwik Ghatak have shaped Jaishankar's visual language. 


Today, Jaishankar is taking Kannada parallel cinema to new places, along with filmmakers Natesh Hegde and Prithvi Konanur. The young brigade has taken over the mantle from veteran Girish Kasaravalli, who, for decades, was Kannada cinema's lone face in the international festival circuit.


'Narasimaiahan Phylum', set in Nelamangala, is about a farmer's excitement to screen a star-studded film — which features the farmer in a blink-and-you-miss-it role — to the people of his village. 


'Lacchavva', a 20-minute short (from the anthology 'Katha Sangama'), is a heartwarming story of a woman who leaves Hubballi to be with her son in Bengaluru but gets lost in the metropolis. It received a Special Mention at the Mumbai International Film Festival in 2020. 


'Shivamma', which will premiere in the US and Australia this year, is about a government school cook who attempts to rescue her family from poverty by getting into a multi-level marketing business.


Jaishankar's films are meant to be experienced, not processed. Minimal dialogues and rural backdrops are a staple in all three of his films. This setting is further propelled by flickers of warmth and humour.


"Emotions drive my stories. They also demand non-actors. For instance, in 'Lacchavva', you cannot cast a well-known actor because you feel you have seen her somewhere and she can't possibly get lost in a city," reasons Jaishankar, who revealed he waited for days at bus stops and construction sites in Bengaluru to find a face for the character.


The three films are also heavily autobiographical. "‘Narasimaiahan Phylum' is shot in my hometown, Nelamangala. Films aren't easily accessible for people there," he says. The hardships and rejections faced by salespeople moved him to write 'Shivamma'. 


Jaishankar has grown in confidence with each film, says Rishab Shetty, who spotted him at a short film competition and bankrolled 'Lacchavva' and 'Shivamma'. "His stories are very relatable. That's why 'Shivamma' is not just a festival film. The masses will connect with it strongly," he says.


As the son of late Aryar Parameshwar, a retired sub-inspector of police, and Bhagyavathi, a homemaker, Jaishankar only learned his craft while making his short films. A workshop by Pawan Kumar (of 'Lucia', 'U Turn' fame) on "how to turn your ideas into films" was his only formal training in the art form.


Short films help you get your first break, after which, festivals introduce you to producers, he says. "I had to apply for a credit card to make 'Narasimaiahan Phylum'. My family was worried when I quit my job for a year to make 'Shivamma'," he recollects.


The glowing response to 'Shivamma' at Busan Festival has convinced Jaishankar to make more movies. "Many called it a masterpiece and I thought they were being generous. A high school girl in Busan messaged me on Instagram and asked for my autograph. She waited for me for three hours and I felt special," he says.