We had the good fortune of connecting with Inderveer Sodhi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Inderveer, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
The short version is that someone broke my heart in the 12th grade, and it awakened the artist in me, And now here’s the longer version of that story.
Throughout high school I always wanted to pursue a career in filmmaking and music but I never saw myself being skilled enough or having the endurance to be a film director. Ironically, I spent most of my years in high school making short films, writing music for my band class, performing at school concerts, and staying in the media arts room until nine on school nights. While being completely obsessed with storytelling, especially after witnessing Chris Nolan’s Inception and Interstellar, I was also simultaneously interested in astronomy and astrophysics. Perhaps the latter sounded like a safer option even though it was something I was deeply passionate about, but something I’ve always traced back to being a kid is my stubbornness. I don’t think I could’ve allowed myself to head down a path that wasn’t my true calling.
The night before we had to present our projects in media arts was always restless for me. I could never wait to show the class what my friends and I had slogged through to create. I would sit, sometime stand at the back of the classroom while the film played in the dark. It’s still so vivid: the gasping, the laughter, and the awe in which the class would watch our shorts. That ability to evoke emotions in someone else, and collectively communicate a story to people is what pulled at my heart strings and hunger for creativity. I was so damn excited about the possibilities of storytelling. What else could I make? What other stories do I have inside me that are burning to get out?
Having been an audience of great films that I discovered in that time, to the reactions I saw with my own amateur work in high school ultimately cemented my decision to pursue filmmaking and music composition as a career no matter how difficult it would be.
Now where does the girl come in? Well, having my heart broken in high school brought out the emotional depth that my films and music lacked. I think certain experiences change the way we view the world and more so understand ourselves as people. All of these insights about the human existence help inform your writing, the way you direct actors, and the kind of stories you want to tell. And how chaotic my life became in the years to come after high school definitely has found its way throughout both my feature films, Monster and Confessions of a Superhero.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well I aspire to make films that fall somewhere between the crossroads of arthouse and purely commercial cinema. My first film, Monster, was described by my high school teacher who is also my mentor, Dean Mitchell, as a docudrama. Although that was not my intention, it’s high praise coming from a visual artist such as him. He described it as an immersive film that puts you in the backseat of the drama, literally, while still managing to maintain its dramatic elements that would engage a theatre-going audience.
Made on a barebones budget of $4,000, Monster received critical and commercial acclaim upon its theatrical release before heading to Amazon Prime Video for US and UK audiences. I think what made Monster special was that it was just made by kids in their early twenties, yet tackled deep rooted issues in the South Asian community while still being an entertaining film. I think my first feature really set the tone for the kind of cinema I enjoy, and want to continue to make in the coming years.
I wish the only challenges I was confronted with were related to filmmaking, but unfortunately my adversity was tested in so many places I wouldn’t imagine. Maybe it’s an indie filmmaker thing, or maybe it’s just my luck. Aside from making a feature-length film with a laughable budget and primarily non-actors, Monster suffered a lot of criticism from the community before its release, never during its run ironically. Bullying and intimidation from influential people, whether they were corrupt cops or just famous-ish people from my city, were all things that I had to face while trying to keep my team and project together, and moving forward. However, I remember thinking to myself during the making of this film, that if I can get through this one, I can definitely get through any other film I decide to make. And then funnily enough, while working on my second feature, Confessions of a Superhero, I said the exact thing to myself all over again.
I’m a filmmaker, and I’m here to make films. I want to tell stories that cross cultural boundaries and tap into the human experience. Whether that means a film that’s cut from people’s everyday lives, or a pure fantasy that we all at some point dream about. And I think the latter is what Confessions of a Superhero dives into, a fantasy-like film rooted in our deepest insecurities and desires.
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?
Oh man, thank you for asking me this question. Boy do I have recommendations for you, or I guess my “best friend” in this case. If you ever come down to Vancouver, you absolutely have to go to Downlow Chicken Shack on Commercial Dr. There’s always a lineup, but it’s so worth it if you love hot and spicy fried chicken. My friends call me the “sauce boss” because I rarely eat food without submerging it in a variety of sauces. One of the coolest concoctions I came across at this eatery was their smoked jalapeño-honey mayo to pair with their crispy scorching-hot chicken. I’ve only had the opportunity to go three or four times, but it’s never disappointed anyone I’ve brought with me.
Now once you’ve satiated your hunger with juicy fried chicken, you must visit the Seawall in Vancouver to rent and ride a bike or an electric scooter. Vancouver is a beautiful city, and its natural environments are breathtaking. A hike through Capilano Suspension Bridge is also a fun choice for a date. But if you’re too tired to move your legs, Playland at the PNE is the next best thing. It’s not Disneyland, but it’s a lot of fun if you go with a few friends. Considering my first studio album was titled Carnival, you can see that I have a thing for amusement parks.
Now back to food. You obviously have to regain those calories that you’ve earned riding that Ferris wheel at Playland. And if you didn’t already stuff your mouth with mini-donuts and Pizza Pizza at the park, head down to Tasty Indian Bistro for some of the best Indian food in the Lower Mainland. Three things that will NEVER fail you. Sarson Ka Saag, Butter Chicken with Garlic Naan, and Vegetable Manchurian. I know I said three, but c’mon it’s the end of the day and we’re all tired.
You cannot miss dessert, so visit the Richmond Night Market for bubble tea and some mango ice cream, if you didn’t already have the carrot halwa with a scoop of mango ice cream at Tasty’s. Maybe what I described sounds more like a romantic date itinerary than a hangout with a friend. Oops!
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?
If I may, there are two people who are the most important in my life. My Mom, and my best friend, Tarik Nasihi.
My mom is an immigrant from Punjab who came to Canada as part of an arranged marriage, and as many women of that generation do, she suffered the pains of being married to a stranger and the role of women in traditional South Asian marriages and households. The way my mom held my hand through my journey to pursue a career in the arts invited a lot of criticism from close and distant family. Apparently no matter how creative or unorthodox my pursuits had been growing up, most of my family and relatives still expected me to fall right back into the mould of what they forced their own children into. You’ve all heard it before, something in medicine, something in law, or maybe something in engineering. Albeit I’m a huge robotics fanatic and spent a lot of my time in high school coding and engineering Arduino projects. They just didn’t feed my soul the same way and to the same degree storytelling did.
My mom was taunted for allowing me without hesitation to spend time exploring my creative interests and taking on ambitious projects such as my first feature, Monster, which was based on the controversial gang violence scene in Surrey, the city where I spent most of my adolescence. I always say my mom is the only one who supported me because she is the only one who did so wholeheartedly. She suffered the fear and anxiety that came with being a lone wolf in this situation, but never once told me to consider any other career path, or to slow down. She never let her worries get in the way of anything I was focused on. As stubborn as I was, I wouldn’t have made it this far without my mother. Words don’t do justice to the woman she is, the inspiration she’s been, and the role she’s played in my life, so I’ll end off by saying this. I hope I get to be her child in every lifetime.
The other piece of this puzzle is my friend, Tarik Nasihi. This gentleman has been there for me every single step of the way. He’s literally my 4 am friend who I can call anytime and he will show up at my doorstep to be there for me no matter what Greek tragedy he may be playing a role in. Tarik was there for me even before we became as close as we did in the last few years, even when I was just some guy who used to randomly crash the band room in high school and get everyone to start jamming out to my compositions.
When I was dealing with depression and several other mental health struggles throughout the years, going door to door looking for financial investors for our films, or trying to ask out a girl I was madly crushing on, Tarik is the only one who stood by me and gave every last drop of his blood, sweat, and tears. Tarik has literally ran blocks in the scorching sun to be there for me whenever I’ve needed him. He’s sacrificed nights of sleep to make sure everything on set was running smoothly and on time. He’s one of the most linguistically gifted people I’ve met whose problems solving skills are second to none. Aside from being a creative bounce board throughout all my films and soundtracks, he’s helped shape me into the man I am today, and has always helped in keeping me grounded as people like myself can sometimes fly too close to the sun. Tarik is the best producer one could ask for on a film, and the best kind of selfless friend one could be fortunate enough to meet in their life.
Photographers: Chantele Franz, Shaneel Prasad, Gurleen Kaur, and Tanisha Dosanjh