We had the good fortune of connecting with Mandar Kamalapurkar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mandar, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Art is what brings life to life, it makes life worth living! I was always fascinated by various fields of art, right from childhood. In school days I would participate in every cultural event, be it drama, dance, singing or storytelling. At our home, studies and cultural activities had equal importance. The atmosphere was conducive to arts, as both my parents and my elder sisters had an interest in music, literature, films etc. I was also good at studies and had a deep interest in science. I did my Bachelor’s in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering. So I had a strong technical base. But by the end of graduation, I realised that I cannot do an ‘only technical’ job. I had to work in a creative field. And thankfully, the post-graduate course in Audiography at Film & Television Institute of India (FTII, Pune) provided me the right path to balance my technical skills and artistic passion. Since then, I have been working in the creative field and following my dream.
For me, every day is a fresh experience, a new challenge. I get to travel a lot, meet new people, work in a variety of environments and apply my skills in numerous different ways! So I enjoy every single day and I’m grateful for it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Sound Designer. I design the sound track for feature films, short films, web series, documentary films and even theatrical plays. I’m responsible for everything that you hear (and even what you don’t hear) in a film. General audience is normally interested only in the story of a film. Apart from that, at the most they notice the actors, the locations and the music (since there are songs in most Indian films). When I say I’m a Sound Designer, they think I do the background music or something.
My actual work involves a lot of things apart from background music and spoken words or dialogues. I take these two elements (dialogues and music) and combine them with other sounds (like ambient nature sounds, sound effects and specially created ‘foley’ sounds) to create the final sound track. There’s a lot of thought and effort that goes in creating this.
What sets me apart is the fact that I create most of the sounds myself, not relying much on the readily available stock sounds. I know what my film should sound like and I create every sound with this clarity in my mind. I study the script and help the director tell his story using sounds in the best possible way. Thus, I’m a storyteller and sound is my medium.
I’m proud of the fact that I am considered a sound designer with an open approach. With one State Award and one National Award to my name, I have tried to strike the balance between commercial and experimental work. Both these genres are equally important in my opinion. It’s important to do meaningful work and give your best in any project that comes your way.
Of course, it wasn’t easy to get here. I had to overcome a lot of hurdles – my own mental blocks, the anxiety of my family, the initial period of struggle, the various kinds of Good-bad-and-ugly experiences etc. But no matter what, not losing patience and keeping at it is the key. That’s how I tried to overcome the challenges.
I learnt a few important lessons in this journey, most of them were learnt the
hard way. One, give due importance to yourself and your work. If you don’t do that, no one else will. People will take you for granted. Don’t let that happen. Second, when you do something wholeheartedly, it’s bound to become good and unique. That’s your signature, work towards it. Third, value your family and friends. Spend time with them. They are the ones who’ll always be with you. Find the balance between work and personal life.
I want people to understand the importance of sound, not just in films but in real life too. And I want them to know that there are people like me who have studied this aspect, to help you experience and understand it in a better way. As they say, sound is half the experience. And I’m here to take that half to its fullest potential!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I stay in Thane, which is almost a twin city of Mumbai – The financial & entertainment capital of India. Both Mumbai and Thane have a lot of interesting places to visit. Also, Thane has numerous spots of natural beauty and peace. So on a week long trip, I can take this friend to famous spots like Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Juhu beach, Film City along with some other spots like Kanheri caves, Yeoor, Vasai fort, Flamingo sanctuary etc. We can even plan a 1-2 day trekking/hiking/camping trip around Thane. It’s always good to hear the soundscape of nature whenever one can!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My father has been my biggest support and inspiration. He himself has a deep interest and understanding about music and arts, in general. He has passed it on to me passionately. Both my parents have inculcated the right values, ambitions and the discipline necessary to achieve them in us. They are my support system. My wife Nishigandha is another big support for me. She has been on my side through thick and thin, and she has contributed a lot to me, my life and my success. Being a trained musician, she also helps me in understanding the musicality in sound.
Another important name to be mentioned would be my maternal aunt, ‘Shyamal Mawshi’ as we called her. She is not in this world anymore, but she is always with me in my heart. She is the reason I am, what I am today.
And lastly, I’d like to thank my Alma Mater – Film & Television Institute of India (FTII, Pune). It’s the place where I learnt everything about cinema and sound. It’s where I met friends, teachers and mentors for life. And it’s the reason why a middle-class boy like me could dream of working in the film industry and achieve this dream with flying colours.
Pictures courtesy : Nishigandha Kamalapurkar, Sachidanand Tikam, Shrikant Jadhav, Pradeep Saroj