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Meet the world's youngest director

Last updated on: November 29, 2012 10:28 IST

Image: Kishan Shrikanth directed his first film at the age of nine.
Photographs: Courtesy YouthIncMag Courtesy YouthIncMag

Guinness World Record holder Kishan Shrikanth directed his first feature film at the age of 9! Now, at 15, Kishan has big plans for the future. This is his story.

When I was about four years old, one of my dad's friends suggested my name for a movie where they needed a four-year-old kid.

I was called for an audition, after which I was selected and on the same day I started acting.

All child actors on the set would be engaged for about two to three hours. The rest of the time, they would play around.

I was curious about the camera, the lights and how film works.

This curiosity made me go and ask each and every crew member on the set, right from a light boy to the cinematographer and the film director, about various things.

They would tell me or rather indirectly teach me small things and press reporters wrote in the papers that one day I might become a film director.

But never did they, nor I, nor my parents guessed that I would end up as a film director at the age of nine.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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How he became a director

Image: Kishan on the sets of Care of Foothpath
Photographs: Courtesy YouthIncMag

I directed my first film at the age of nine.

The movie was Care of Footpath. It is the success story of a slum boy without an address who wants to go to school. He struggles with getting educated and writing his seventh grade exam at nine years (which can be written only at 13 ) without going to school a single day.

The film was shot in 55 days over six to eight months and won 11 prestigious international awards.

Through this journey there were a lot of challenges. I couldn't learn things I wanted to like sound engineering and film editing because professional studios couldn't spare the time to teach me.

Lots of people didn't believe I was directing Care of Footpath at nine, so the press came to the sets to see if I was really directing or if it was just a stunt.

Directing Jackie Dada and Kallu Mama

Directing Jackie dada (Jackie Shroff) and Sourabh Shukla-ji was fabulous.

They never treated me as a kid, instead they treated me as they would any other film director, especially Jackie dada who would call me chota director.

I met Jackie Shroff at an event in Mumbai. After hearing about Care of Footpath, he was very touched.

He told me that he came from footpaths himself and faced lots of difficulty.

Later, he asked me for a role in my film. I thought he was joking, but after I returned to Bangalore, he actually called me and asked, "Kya role diya hai mujhe?" (What role have you offered me?) I was shocked.

I sat down with my screen writers and we finally decided to give him the role of the Chief Minister in Care of Footpath.

After watching Satya and seeing Sourabh Shukla play Kallu Mama, I decided that I wanted him in my film.

It was a good experience working with a senior scriptwriter and a senior actor in the film.

Entering the Guinness World Records

Image: Kishan shows off his Guiness World Records certificate
Photographs: Courtesy Kishan Shrikanth/Facebook

Getting into the books of the Guinness World Records was one of the greatest things that happened to me.

In 1973, a 13-year-old boy from the Netherlands Sydney Ling was the world's youngest director of a professionally made feature film.

After 33 years, in 2006, I replaced Sydney Ling's name with mine. I was proud when the name of my motherland, my country, India, was written in the Guinness World Records.

Apart from this, Oprah Winfrey featured me in the top 15 genius children of the world and I was recognised by Singapore Media Corp as one of Asia's seven genius children.

Master's degree at 16

I'm 16 years old and currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Multimedia and Animation from Karnataka State Open University.

I'm the first person in Karnataka to be given an age relaxation to directly take up a higher course.

Though I missed more than 50 per cent of my classes, I managed to score 93 per cent in my 10th grade!

When I was younger and acting in films, I carried my notes and books to the film-sets and studied during breaks and while travelling.

I love studying and my favourite subjects are Mathematics, Science and, of course, English!

'One of my dreams is to make a superhero movie'

Image: A still from the soon-to-be-released film Teenage starring Kishan
Photographs: Courtesy YouthIncMag

I'm acting in a movie called Teenage which releases this month.

It is a high school musical about a teenager's confusions, attractions, distractions, infatuations and zero solutions. 

My second film is to start next year and will be in Hindi and English in Stereoscopic 3D, a technology I learnt even before Avatar hit the theatres. 

After becoming one of India's first stereographers and studying 3D technology intensively, I want to research and develop holography and optical illusions, which is expected to used in tomorrow's filmmaking. 

One of my dreams is to make a superhero movie. There are movies on Spiderman, Superman and Batman, but if we look at Indian mythology, our superheroes were enormous. 

Even the word Avatar is derived from Sanskrit.

Know more

Favourite film: Apollo 13 and Armageddon
Favourite director: Steven Spielberg
Actors he wants to direct: Tom Cruise, Johny Depp and Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz
Greatest achievement: I don't really know
Role model: Steven Spielberg and Dad
His dream: Win an Oscar one day
Biggest compliment received: When Roberto Benigni said he could see the entire world in my eyes!

Timeline of achievements

Age 3: Started modelling
Age 4: Acted in his first film
Age 5: Became a playback singer
Age 6: Learnt photo designing on
Age 7: Learnt sound engineering on software such as ProTools
Age 8: Acted in about 24 feature films and more than 300 television episodes. Also learnt film editing on Final Cut Pro
Age 9: Directed his first feature film