We had the good fortune of connecting with Akshaya Sawant and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Akshaya, how do you think about risk?
I am a strong believer that risks are important to take that big leap in your life/career. Personally, they have been essential in shaping the kind of storyteller I want to be. My debut documentary feature ‘Talking To The Wind’ explores the social and psychological effects of climate change as it impacts identity, the idea of masculinity and the patriarchal structure that crumbles under extreme environmental crisis. The film opens with a 9 minute uninterrupted shot of a man walking from his home to the nearest well for a pot of water; a choice I had to defend time and again while editing the film, because keeping that shot as/is meant losing out a major chunk of audience; A huge risk for a first time filmmaker.
However, in my opinion, it also meant reaching out to a specific audience who sees the value in it while highlighting the brutal realities of life without access to water. Since its completion, Talking To The Wind has won 8 prestigious awards including Platinum Remi Award for Best Socio-Economic Film, Best Documentary and Best Cinematography; And has screened at over 16 film festivals internationally where esteemed festival organizers, judging panels and audience members have come up to me to express how profound they found the long take to be. So yes, I like taking calculated risks in my life/career because fortune favors the brave.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I make movies! The films I create explores the human experience of living in a complex society jaded by gender, culture and traditions. My film Talking To The Wind, which explores the aftermath of Maharashtra drought, is currently playing at film festivals. I am working on producing my next project, an animated short film ‘Tubelight ki Cycle’ (Tubelight’s cycle) that explores the journey of an earnest paper boy living on the streets of Mumbai, who sets off on a quest for the perfect bicycle, where he learns the true meaning of home.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In a pre-pandemic world, I would have taken my friend out for my favorite street food at Tacos Arabes, Leo’s Taco or El Flamin’ Taco — I can’t wait to have one when the world comes back to normal… also, it doesn’t break your bank! The Gran Central Market is great, it has a bunch of food places in a huge building. Apart from that, I love Kobawoo House for Korean food, Guadalajara hotdog from Pink’s Hotdog, Cafe De Olla, Milk Jar Cookies, and Little Jewel of New Orleans which is probably the only place in LA to get real creole food!
I will definitely take my friend to the Getty Center — an art museum with beautiful architecture and gardens, Museum of Death — a murder museum with everything true crime, and the Last Bookstore — a really cool fun local bookstore, also where Elisa Lam went before she died. For nightlife, I love the Tramp Stamp Granny’s which is a piano bar, Cafe Brass Monkey which is a karaoke bar, and Black Rabbit Rose which is a speakeasy for magic shows!
Me and my friend Sloan have a tradition because we love Halloween — Every year we go to the Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal studios and enjoy a spooky night surrounded by our favorite scary characters from all the shows and movies we love! If you’re in LA in October, I highly recommend it. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shoutout to Hope B~Lit under Bayfield Foundation Inc. and Ruhi aka Rohini Hak for their countless efforts to bring real change in people’s lives. Ruhi came on board as an associate producer and has executed food drives, clothes and sewing machine donations in rural Maharashtra to empower the farming community. They have been instrumental in extending the social aspect of Talking To The Wind on the ground level.