Mohsin Abrar

You are a travel photographer, when did your interest in Photography come into your life?
When I moved to Dubai, I was new to the place and did not have a friend circle. I was trying to be constructive in my free time after work and that I when I met a group of photographers. This group was travelling out to shoot in the UAE every Friday at 5 am. This sounded like fun and I joined them. It started very casual initially and then later I got drawn to the creative aspect of photography. I started to spend more time with the camera and exploring different locations and shots. Over a period of time my pictures started to get published in Gulf News, National Geographic, BBC news.
Nikon took me as an influencer for Nikon Asia where I conducted Nikon School classes.

What type of photographs do you usually capture? Any memories while clicking best photographs?
I get drawn to Landscape photography and human stories. There are many memories, one that is very vivid till now is the one while I was shooting this picture near a volcano in Indonesia. While shooting around the volcano which was mostly barren land and very hot on that particular day, I noticed a horseman praying. This sight moved me a lot. I moved close to the horseman and saw he was deeply into his prayers despite the hot sun and arid climate. I clicked a few pictures and moved further. But that image and sight has had a lasting impression on my mind and heart that if you have to connect to your God, any place becomes a place of worship.

You are a movie director. Please write something about the movies, you acted and directed? Any awards and recognitions?
The 1st feature length movie that I have directed is “Welcome on Board”. “Welcome on Board” takes you to the untold world of a day in the lives of cabin crew. With the world becoming a global village most of us fly at least once in a few months and at times we are guilty of being demanding and rude to the cabin crew. Yet we still expect - and receive - service with a smile. “Welcome on Board” deals with the stories of the women behind those smiles. While there have been many movies both in Hollywood and Bollywood about cabin crew, most of them dealt with glamour - and a handful of them with valour and responsibility. "Welcome on Board" deals with the daily struggles and dilemmas in the lives of Cabin crew. This is a completely new terrain that’s explored in this movie.
“Welcome On Board” has been fully shot in Singapore. Furthermore, with Singapore being a melting pot of cultures, “Welcome on Board” has cast and crew from more than 5 countries (Singapore, India, Malaysia, France, Poland).
Diversity is also a strong pillar on which the movie is based. Women make up around half the world’s population, yet less than 20% of movies made currently centre around women. “Welcome on Board” proudly deals with subjects revolving around women. Besides, the movie has a cast and crew that comprises more than 80% of women. The movie truly celebrates women's power. "Welcome on Board" has won many international awards.

  • Oniros film awards Italy - Best Indie film and Best Costume.
  • Crownwood International film award - Best Feature film, Best film on Women, Best Debutant filmmaker.
  • Druk International film festival - Best Debutant filmmaker, Best film on Women, Best Editing, Best Music Score and Best supporting actor.
  • Tagore International Film festival - Best feature film, Best Director, Best film on Women, Best Editing, Best Music Score and Best actress.

The awards in which we are official selection are as follows:

  • Rome Independent Awards
  • Miami Film awards
  • Florence Film Awards

Behind the camera or in front of camera ? Whats your favourite and why?
I love to be in front of the camera. The art of expressing your emotions through different characters and stories has always fascinated me.
I am trained in New York Film Academy through Lee Strasberg method acting techniques. I love to bring these to life through different characters.
You can live your life only once through one character but in screen you can live your life though hundreds of characters. So Explore, explore and explore to give meaning to each of the story.

Whom do you consider your idol and why ?
I idolise my Dad. He is a perfect role model for me, both in personal and professional world. He was an ideal father, husband, brother, son, friend and he respected each relationship and people. At the same time he embraced all the cultures and faiths. When you see his movies you will get this feeling of inclusivity in his direction and acting.
When it came to work he was always innovative, disciplined and took care of his entire unit like his family. His movies heralded a new dawn in the Odia film industry. He always made movies with keeping families in mind and told Odia stories through his movies.

Your father was a great odia actor and movie director. Do you have any plans to make Odia movies in future?
As I told you earlier I am humbled with what my father has achieved for himself and the Odia film industry. I was preparing for quite sometime to step into the world of movies so that each action we take is incremental to what my Dad has achieved. “Welcome on Board” was the 1st independent movie that I made under the banner of “Mohammad Mohsin Production” which won awards in international and domestic circuit. Welcome on Board is currently hosted in Disney Hotstar.
With this as the starting point I am foraying into Odia and Bengali movies. We are currently in the research phase of the project which is due to release in theatres in 2023. This is going to be an ambitious project and is being worked by keeping the odia audience in mind.

You are a story teller. What kind of stories do you love to tell?
I love stories with human truth. When we spend 2-3 hours in a movie apart from being entertained what is important is what is the sticky message in our mind. As they say a simple idea can change the world, you never know which story is powerful enough to move generations.

What is your favourite Odia food, Odia song, Odia movie and why?
My favourite odia food is kanika and mansa kasha.
Rupa Sagadi re suna kaniya from Jaga Hatare Pagha which is my Dads movie and the music by Akshaya Mohanty uncle always tops my playlist.
When it comes to my favourite movie it is “Lakhe Siba Puji Paichi Pua”

What’s your favourite tourist destination in Odisha? Any memories?
Puri remains my all time favourite destination. I remember during my school vacation, Dad used to drive us down to Puri from Cuttack and all through the road he used to tell stories about various places and people like Sakshi Gopal, Bhakta Salbeg.

What are your hobbies?
Since I am working full time now as a marketeer, acting and film making is my hobby now.

Who is your favourite Odia author? Any Odia books you love to read?
Shri Fakir Mohan Senapati is my all time favourite Odia author. He infused a new life in Odia literature, his sense of humour was unparalleled in Odia literature. "Patent Medicine”, “Chha mana atha ghunta”, “Rebati”.

Your hometown is Cuttack. Tell us something about your hometown and its uniqueness from other places you travelled.
I can keep saying about Cuttack for hours together and not get tired at all. Let it be about the Mahanadi and Kathjodi rivers and the boatmen humming along when they cross the river, the filigree work, Durga Puja and BaliYatra and long queues to see the Pandals, Dahi Bara Aludum, chaat, Sharbat and the street foods, Barabati Stadium, evening Khatti, the love and brotherhood of everyone in the city. Cuttack is one big family of 7-8 lakhs people.

Whats your Vision for Odisha in 2050?
I can answer this question of yours from the field I operate in and my singleminded goal will be to transform Odia film Industry and take Odia movies to mainstream national level when we would be known for our creativity and content.

Which eminent Odia personality has inspired you and why ?
Mr Naveen Pattanaik is an inspiration for me. Odisha has got a new identity under the leadership of Mr. Naveen Pattanaik. A considerable improvement has been achieved in terms of infrastructure, education, healthcare. People are noticing our state like never before. Apart from being an astute statesman he also turned around the the India Hockey team.

What key advice would you give to young photographers and aspiring movie makers of Odisha?
I am still quite novice in movie making and feel that I have lot to learn before I can suggest anything to anyone. But in the heart I yearn and urge that we make stories and movies of Odisha rather than blindly copying movies from other states and countries.

Last question, if you are given a chance to revisit the past, what would you like to do?
I would like my Dad to direct me as an actor in his movies.

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