In a world where the growth of technology is booming by the hour, Tushar Tyagi could have easily found his niche with his degree in computer engineering. Yet this young man chose to nurture a passion that was very dear to him. Filmmaking was his dream, and he wanted to see it become true!
Fresh out of college, 21-year-old Tushar flew from India to New York simply following his heart although he did not know a thing about making films. After the completion of his course at New York Film Academy, he divided his time between Los Angeles and Atlanta to work on his projects.
Time flew by. Now 10 years later, Tushar Tyagi features among the nation’s talented group of independent filmmakers who have made immense contributions to Indian and international cinema. He has an impressive filmography as a writer, director, and producer, with a string of accolades gracing his path. Tushar is also the creator of the Yellowstone International Film Festival, which seeks to bring independent films to the limelight by giving recognition to filmmakers and their work.
A few glimpses of the human connection
Tushar Tyagi strikes the chords of humanity. His films are based on stories that are soaked in delicate human emotions. The glitz and glamor are largely absent, and he makes realism his forte. His stories are built on thoughts, situations, and feelings that engulf mankind in their day-to-day lives. And it is that quality which appeals to all those who appreciate the craft of meaningful cinema.
One of his earlier films, Gulabee, (2014) explores the theme of guilt as Tushar tells the story of a prostitute who wants to escape from the devils of her past. The awards the film fetched include the Special Festival Mention at the 2015 Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival and the Royal Reel Award for a short film at the Canada International Film Festival.
Love is universal and transcends all norms and boundaries. The short film Hari, which won awards for best screenplay at the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival and the LA Short Awards in 2016, delves deep into a dilemma that a young priest faces. Standing at a crossroads, he needs to decide whether to choose the love of his life or honor his oath to celibacy.
In Kaashi, Tushar handles social issues that plague rural India. The film is about a teenage girl living in poverty who is adamant about getting basic necessities like a toilet built in her house.
A departure from his other films, A Broken Egg is built around the issue of teenage pregnancy which is quite prominent in the USA. A dysfunctional family goes through a rollercoaster of emotions as they discover that their teenage daughter is pregnant. The uniqueness stems from the fact that the entire film is done over the course of a family dinner with no change of setting.
A gem called Saving Chintu
Inspired by a true incident, Saving Chintu is truly a masterpiece that lends further credibility to Tushar’s brilliant filmmaking technique. For this project, he roped in a stellar starcast which includes Adil Hussain, Dipannita Sharma, Bollywood-based American actor Edward Sonneblick, and Los Angeles-based actor Sachin Bhatt among others.
A special feather adorned Tushar’s hat when Saving Chintu qualified to run for the 2021 Oscars.
The film promotes inclusivity and addresses challenges faced by the LGBTQ coummity. It also throws light on complex issues like child adoption and HIV that society faces.
As the story goes, a gay couple comes from the USA to India to adopt Chintu, a little boy who is infected with HIV and lives in an orphanage. The complication is posed by Indian adoption rules that do not favor same sex couples. The film takes the audience on a thought-provoking journey as they seek to know whether Chintu gets a loving home to experience the bliss of parental love.
Making films with honesty and research
We see an artist loving his craft unconditionally when Tushar talks about the topics he chooses for his films. In one of those moments in his interview with Forbes USA, he was asked about what he had to say on his films not reaching the masses. Tushar shared that he is not bothered by the amount of audience that would instantly watch his films. What he wishes is to leave a legacy of stories that people can connect to at some point or another. To quote him:
“I always pick subjects or stories I connect the most with, stories of human resilience, kindness, love, loss, learning, and life experiences. The stories I think must be told, the stories I relate with because somewhere down the line I’ve lived through similar experiences of love, loss, lost and gained faith,confidence or resilience”
The future projects
Tushar Tyagi has interesting projects lined up along the way. His upcoming film Lappad is slated to release in the next few months. Directed by Abhiroop Basu with Tushar as the executive producer, the film Laali featuring the talented Pankaj Tripathi is making its round of film festivals. He is currently working on a web series for an OTT platform and is in the producer’s seat for a film called Man & Wife to be directed by Rahul Roye. Also in the line is a feature film that will see the light of day next year.
The story behind a noble endeavor
Major parts of Tushar’s film Kaashi were shot in a village school, and in 2019, he was invited there for India’s Republic Day celebrations. The children showed an interest in learning computers to prepare themselves for the future. An idea was born, and Tushar set himself on a mission.
Partnering with his cousin who is a fashion designer, Tushar started a clothing brand called “World of Liberation” which has women from the villages making handcrafted attire. Most of the revenue goes towards improving the quality of technical education for kids in selected villages with the remaining allotted to the women working for the brand.
The vibrant and dynamic Tushar Tyagi
Tushar Tyagi’s social media posts speak volumes about his vibrant personality. He is an avid world traveler, and his sojourns include trips where he explores the aesthetics of his ancestral village.
Oscar Sundays hype him. Beaming with happiness, he talks about being fortunate to have attended the Academy Awards in 2015 and hopes that someday he would get to walk up the stairs of the Dolby Theater as a nominee!
We also see him as a nature lover and a fitness enthusiast. The warmth emerges when he shares happy moments with his family, and we sense kindness and empathy when he talks about the importance of a safe future, education, and healthcare for the children in rural India.
The Super Six Rapid Fire!
I thought there was no better way to wind up than taking Tushar on a fun rapid fire round:
RBD: If you had not graduated as an engineer or were not a filmmaker, what other career would have interested you?
TT: I am fascinated by outer space and would have done something related to space.
RBD: What would you like to change about yourself?
TT: I wish I could get myself into the habit of saying “No” sometimes when asked for help.
What was the best compliment you ever received?
TT: People have said I have deep, expressive eyes.
If you had to live on an island all by yourself and were allowed to take just 3 things with you, what would they be?
TT: I love throwing colors, so I would take my color box. Also I would take with me my mom and my 2 dogs.
If you were given the chance to remake one of your favorite films by another filmmaker, what would that be? Name 2 actors that you would like to cast?
TT: I would love to remake Sholay, casting Pankaj Tripathi in the role of Thakur Baldev Singh and Richa Chaddha to play Basanti.
If you were given a magic wand and could change one thing about this world, what would it be?
TT: I would like to eradicate illnesses like cancer or diseases like AIDS for which there’s no vaccine yet!
Tushar Tyagi’s story is that of a young man who has stepped out of his comfort zone and embarked on a path with confidence and patience as his companions. T.S. Eliot had remarked, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” Tushar’s journey is a case in point, for he has taken the plunge to face all odds to discover his potential and translate his dreams into reality!
As Tushar moves forward to live his passion, here’s to wishing him the very best with a shower of smiles and success in the journey ahead!
( A version of this article was recently published in India Currents )