2015-2016 Fellows:

Anand Sachdev is a movie buff and his passion for movies led him to join the first batch of Anupam Kher's Academy called 'Writer Prepares'. There he learnt the art of writing full length movie stories and screenplay under the mentorship and guidance of National Award Winner - Satyanshu Singh. Over the 4 month course, Anand has completed one full movie story, screenplay & dialogues for his story called 'Reunion.'  

Srikant Kumar Padhi completed a B. Tech in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from Odisha in 2009, after which he decided to pursue his passion for watching movies and writing stories and scripts by enrolling in a filmmaking course from Digital Academy, The Film School, Mumbai. By profession, he has been working as a freelance writer and freelance video editor for the past four years in Mumbai. Srikant has experience working in teleshop ads, corporate films, educational video tutorials, short films and short documentaries thus far. His ultimate goal is to become a feature film screenwriter. 

Swara Bhaskar is an award winning actress in the Hindi Film Industry whose Filmography includes the superhit films Tanu Weds Manu (2011), Raanjhanaa (2013), and Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015). She has also featured as the lead actor in Listen Amaya (2013) and the horror flick Machhli Jal Ki Rani Hai (2014). Swara's forthcoming releases include Sooraj Barjatya's Salman Khan starrer Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's Nil Baatey Sannata (2016) which won Swara the Best Actress Award at the Silk Road International Film Festival in Fuzhou, China in September 2015. She was the anchor for Shyam Benegal's epic series Samvidhaan: The Making of the Indian Constitution (2014). Swara is also an occassional writer and columnist and her short stories and articles have appeared in The Little Magazine, Seminar, The Himal Southasian, The Hindu and the Indian Express. Swara is also part of an artist's collective called SWAANG that produces and performs progressive and protest music and theatre. 

Wasimbarry Maner was born into a below poverty line Muslim family in small town India. After a school picked him from the street, they opened his mind and sowed the seeds of gender senstivitiy, equality and peace; Wasim's life has taken a complete transition from extreme poverty to a venture in an expensive business like film. As he couldn't affort to enroll in big film schools, Wasim learnt the art and craft of cinema through self-initiative and supportive workshops. Now a trained cinematographer, writer, documentary film director and an instinctive graphic artist since the past 12 years, his background has taught him to be adaptive to difficult situations and be an instinctive problem solver. A science graduate currently studying social work, Wasim works to help the school he studied in to raise funds and design systems for management. He also owns a production house, Biroba Films, under which he does all of his productions. Art is at the core of his heart and it beats for making films. 

Rohini Mohan is a political journalist who's worked for more than a decade, writing on human rights for several publications including Al Jazeera, The New York Times, Tehelka, The Caravan, Economic Times, The Hindu and news channel CNN-IBN. Her first book, The Seasons of Trouble, is a nonfiction account on postwar Sri Lanka, and was published in 2014. Rohini has a Masters in political journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York. She is now based in Bangalore. 

Mukti Krishan is an award-winning 3D Animation and VFX graduate from Vancouver Film School. Mukti has worked in the VFX departments of various Hollywood productions including: Disney's Tinkerbell and the Weinstein Brother's Hoodwinked. In 2011, to hone her skills as a filmmaker, Mukti completed a comprehensive Cinematography course from Whistling Woods International Film School, Mumbai. Upon graduating, she assisted on Vinod Chopra Films' Ferrari Ki Sawari. In a short time span, Mukti has also directed several short films that have won many awards at domestic and international film festivals. Her latest documentary, The Mud Warriors, was selected for the 2015 British Film Institute Film Festival where it received a standing ovation. She is currently absorbed with the post-production of her new documentary, The Powerpuff Girls

Bela Negi is a writer, director and producer with Nitric Films, a production house based in Mumbai. After finishing film studies in FTII Pune, with a specialization in editing in 1997, she assisted in films in the editing department working on shorts, fiction and nonfiction as an independent editor. As a TV producer and director, Bela worked on a travel show "Patli Gully" for Channel V. She has also produced and directed several ads and corporate films. Bela's first feature film, Daayen Ya Baayen (2010) is a social comedy set in a village in Uttarakhand, touching upon various social and environmental issues that plague the hills, albeit in a humorous vein. Since then, she has been developing a few scripts, including Kalapani which was part of the NFDC scriptlab and Shadowed which was selected for NVFS. The social concerns of her writing have spilled into the area of real work with her trust Leafbird Foundation. Through her films she hopes to bring awareness and offer a perspective and through the trust work she hopes to catalyze a change with afforestation, education and livelihood programs which they run in very remote areas of Uttarakhand. 

2013 - 2014 Fellows:

Harsh Chhaya is an actor in the Indian Film and Television Industry for the last twenty two years. He holds an M.A. Degree in Mass Communication from Mass Communication Research Center, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi- ( 1989-91 ). He has worked in various capacities as freelance assistant in Production and Direction for both fiction and documentary work, video editor, operative cameraman, sound recordist for documentary films - a collective experience of five years in New Delhi before he decided to start acting as a full time professional and shifted base to Mumbai in 1992. He has written, produced and directed a short film "A Puzzle" and has a book of short stories in Hindi to his credit.

Naina Gupta grew up in Delhi and did her Bachelor’s in Journalism from Lady Shri Ram College. Gupta discovered her love for cinema while pursuing a Master’s degree in film-making from AJKMCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia. After working on numerous student productions, she found out that her heart lies in screenwriting. She started working as an independent writer working on short screenplays of varied lengths. Her short screenplay ‘MA (mother)’ (15 minutes) was a finalist at the 2014 Canadian Short Screenplay Contest. Working as a copy editor by day and screenwriter by night, she stumbled upon an idea for a feature film which she developed and which eventually got selected for this fellowship. This is her first feature film project.

Teenaa Kaur has directed and produced 13 videos for a Science and Environment TV Show “Living on the Edge” for broadcast on DD National. Kaur is the recipient of a Fellowship grant from PSBT for her film “The Woods are Calling” based on the Angamis community of Nagaland. Amongst her portfolio of independent and documentary films there is “The Deer, Tree and Me”, “In Symphony with Earth!”, “Hola! The Mighty Colors”, and “Blame it on the Winds?” Prior to independent filmmaking she has worked with Zee TV as a Promo Director. Kaur has post graduated in Mass Communications from Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, New Delhi and studied Production and Industrial Engg. from M. B. M Engg. College, Jodhpur-Regional Engg. College.

Deepak Sharma pursued Journalism from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi, after graduating in Science from Bhopal. He worked as a Journalist with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and worked in Mumbai for News Channels. His stories have been selected for Mahindra’s Mumbai Mantra Cinerise as well.


Soumil Shukla realized he had a lot to talk about the state of screenplay writing in Hindi cinema, while working as a film critic and without having the faintest of idea of how to write one. This prompted him to appear for the FTII screenplay writing course entrance exam, the catch being - no prior fiction writing experience whatsoever. For better or worse, he got selected and ever since then, life has been about bleeding on paper. Mad about pulp literature, science fiction, comics, graphic novels, B movies and everything that is unabashedly seedy, this weirdo has a special liking for the cheesy and the macabre. Nowadays, he works as a social science researcher for Network18 during the day, and the midnight oil is burned working on a period action epic, a post-apocalyptic dystopian trilogy and a slasher film. Hail Grindhouse!

Chirag Singh is a 26 year old electrical engineer who graduated from Purdue University in 2011. After an unsuccessful stint as an electrical engineer he pursued his passion of writing and completed an intensive 2 year Screenwriting Course from Whistling Woods in 2013. Since then he has been writing for television and assisting noted writers apart from working on his own projects which includes the one selected for this fellowship.

2011 -2012 Fellows:

Gaurav Asri discovered his theatrical and debating skills while at collge and went onto winning a national award in debating. Studying Journalism in Hindi from IIMC Delhi, he graduated to working as a reporter in a Hindi Daily. He then joined RADIO DHAMAAL , JABALPUR (a large city in Central India) as a radio jockey. In JABALPUR he wrote and directed a few plays. A play under his direction, "Zabtshuda Kitaab," written by Amrita Pritam, was staged at a theatre festival in India. He joined BIG 92.7 FM as a content and creative executive and radio jockey in BAREILLY, a large town in North India. He then went to study at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, and is now a struggling writer in Mumbai. 

Vijay Borade got interested in art and cinema early on and started writing plays for university festivals while he was studying Engineering. He founded a theatre group at college and wrote and directed seven plays which received acclaim and awards. After graduation he participated in All India screenplay writing contest named “Sankalan”. Vijay was one of the top three finalists in the contest and received suitable approbation from established Bollywood writers and directors for his script which was inspired by terrorist attack in Mumbai. His plays and screenplays are mostly about lives of ordinary Indian citizens and are inspired by true incidents. Vijay feels craft of screenwriting is a continual learning process and believes what Earnest Hemingway said “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Vijay wants to explore fresh untold stories in different genres.

Chitra Iyer spent 12 years as a marketing professional working for several large corporations like Tata Sky and Procter & Gamble. She finally quit to pursue a career as an independent writer and consultant when she won the international Essays on Human Potential (non-fiction) writing contest 2010. Chitra has a Masters in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science. As a freelancer, she writes articles and book reviews for several websites. She is presently working on a book of short stories about India called ‘The Handmade Country’. Chitra loves to travel, read and eat good food. She lives with her husband and his family at their farm ‘Mebajeona’ in Punjab (India), where they breed thoroughbred race horses and attempt to grow organic food.

Payal Sethi’s relationship with writing dates back to age nine, helping her grandmother translate James Hadley Chase thrillers into Tamil. Payal studied film-making at Vassar College and later, at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She then worked as a director's assistant to filmmaker Mira Nair on several of her productions, including 'Hysterical Blindness', 'Vanity Fair', and 'The Namesake'. While living in New York, she worked with The Tribeca Film Festival, Independent Feature Project and the Mahindra IAAC Film Festival. In 2008, she launched a production and distribution company, FilmKaravan. 'Ooty Queen' is her debut feature, and she is also developing 'Song for Noor,' a sufi music film, and 'Panther,' for which she has received Asia Society's New Voices Fellowship.

Pravin Yadav was a promising student and managed to secure a spot in an MMBS programme and qualified as a doctor. He has been a film lover probably since he saw his first film (which he doesn’t remember). As the medical degree was punishingly hard and he was away from his family for many years, cinema became his “best and only friend”. It didn’t take long (yes just five years) to realize that his natural instincts were of a writer and writing (for films) was the thing HE really wanted to do. He had kept a diary for years but never had the courage to write a screenplay. He wrote his first script for the ‘New Voices Fellowship for the Screenwriters’ as it was mandatory for applicants to submit a previously written script along with a new story. Currently he is writing a screenplay ‘Friendship Club’(working title), the story for which he won Asia Society's New Voices Fellowship.

Pooja Varma was born and brought up in Kolkata, Pooja graduated in Mass Communications and Video Production from St. Xaviers’ College, Kolkata. She worked in advertising as copywriter for Ogilvy and Mather and Bates India. During that time she was also a freelance journalist and wrote film reviews and other film related articles for The Telegraph, besides doing some feature writing for the magazines, India Today and Femina. She then went to study at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. Since then she has been working on stories and scripts independently, while doing television work for Zoom TV and have also compiled and edited a book on the making of the film Raajneeti. At present, besides working on her script under the fellowship, she is writing a reality show for the channel UTV Stars and putting together a book on the making of Aarakshan.