A. R. Rahman, the Indian BAFTA Breakthrough ambassador announced the first ten participants of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Breakthrough India on June 10, 2021. The chosen ones are Akshay Singh, Arun Karthick, Jay Pinak Oza, Karthikeya Murthy, Palomi Ghosh, Renu Savant, Shruti Ghosh, Sumit Purohit, Tanya Maniktala, and Vikram Singh. Previously, it was decided that only five applicants will be selected but due to the sheer increase of quality applicants, the numbers doubled. This initiative is conducted in partnership with Netflix.

As per BAFTA, “The chosen participants will receive one-to-one mentoring, global networking opportunities, free access to BAFTA events and screenings for 12 months, and full voting BAFTA membership. The chosen talent will also connect with and learn from some of the best in the British and Indian creative industries, share their expertise with peers around the world, gain access to opportunities beyond geographical borders, and be promoted as BAFTA Breakthrough artists globally.” 

Now, let’s get to know the ten talented participants! Akshay Singh is a writer-producer, known for producing ‘The Gold-Laden Sheep and The Sacred Mountain’ in 2019 with director Ridham Janve. The film was screened at various festivals including Rotterdam, Mumbai, and Hong Kong where it was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize. Also, he received his first Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) nomination in 2019 as a producer for that film. Jay Pinak Oza is a cinematographer and Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Gully Boy’ was his big break. He started his career as a production assistant such as in Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra’s ‘Rang De Basanti’. He has also worked in ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’, Radhika Apte’s Netflix mini-series ‘Ghoul’, Irrfan Khan’s ‘Blackmail’, and his recent work was as a director of photography in Mehra’s upcoming film ‘Toofan’.

Karthikeya Murthy is a composer, singer-songwriter, and music producer. He made his debut with the Tamil movie ‘Moone Moonu Varthai’ and its Telugu version ‘Moodu Mukkallo Cheppalante’ in 2015. His other works involve ‘K.D.’ in 2019,Kadavul Murugan’ in 2017, and so on. Shruti Ghosh is a game developer, art director, and the founder of Nodding Games. Vikram Singh is an environmental-based director and founder of Elefant. His works are ‘Al-Jazeera’, ‘France24’, ‘Elephants in My Backyard’, and ‘Dead Lakes Alive’. 

Arun Karthick, Renu Savant, and Sumit Purohit are directors and writers. Karthick made his debut with ‘Sivapuranam’ in 2016 which was screened at the International Film Festival, Rotterdam. His second feature film ‘Nasir’ directed in 2020 received the Hubert Bals Fund and was also premiered at the International Film Festival, Rotterdam in 2020. It was an entry for the Tiger Competition and won the NETPAC Award for the best Asian feature film. Savant received the Special Jury Award in the 59th National Film Awards, New Delhi for her short film ‘Airawat’ and the Swarna Kamal for Best Direction in the 62nd National Film Awards in 2015 for her short film ‘Aaranyak’. She also received an Early Career Fellowship from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, School for Media and Cultural Studies, in 2014 enabling her to produce ‘Many Months In Mirya’. This four-hour documentary received the John Abraham National Award 2017 for Best Documentary, India. Also, it was chosen by Raqs Media Collective to be shown at the Yokohama Triennale 2020. Purohit’s renowned work is ‘Scam 1992’, and his other works include ‘Bangistan’, ‘Footfairy’, ‘I Woke Up One Morning’, and ‘Found Myself Famous’.

Tanya Maniktala and Palomi Ghosh are actors. Tanya is known for her roles in TVF’s ‘Flames’, ‘School Days’, and BBC’s ‘A SuitableBoy’. Her upcoming Hindi film is ‘Mumbaikar’, the remake of the 2017 Tamil film ‘Maanagaram’. Palomi is notable for acting in ‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’, ‘Kumpasar’, ‘Sense8’, ‘Kadakh’, and international movies like ‘The Waiting City’ and ‘Gandhi of the Month’. She won the Certificate of merit for Female Actor at the National Film Awards for her role in the 2015 Konkani movie ‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’. Btw, she sings too!

According to BAFTA, “BAFTA Breakthrough selects talent through a cross-industry jury of leading professionals, hand-picked to ensure a diverse selection of experienced voices.” Well, you must be curious about the jury who selected these ten talented people, right? The UK & US panel included Fiona Shaw (actress), Paapa Essiedu (actor), Edward Enninful (Editor-in-Chief – British Vogue), Jodie Azhar (Games Developer), and Kate Townsend (Director). The Indian cohort consisted of A. R. Rahman (Jury Chair and Music Composer), Anupam Kher (Actor), Charu Desodt (Former BAFTA Breakthrough & Games Producer), Krishnendu Majumdar (BAFTA Chair and TV Producer), Mira Nair (Director/Writer/Producer), Monika Shergill (VP, Content, Netflix India). Shonali Bose (Director/Writer/Producer), and Siddharth Roy Kapur (Founder & Producer at Roy Kapur Films). 

The first-ever BAFTA Breakthrough in India began on November 30, 2020, and ended on January 25, 2021. All the potential candidates from the fields of performer, writer, director, producer, composer, cinematographer, games director, game producer, or game developer within the Indian film, games, or television industries were invited to submit their application. BAFTA aims to encourage cross-cultural dialogue in film, games, and television through digital communication this year. With Netflix they “share a joint vision to celebrate and provide opportunities for emerging talent across the world, bringing together international communities across global networks, in order to develop and support stories and voices from different cultures” So, after repeated cross-checking and considerations by the jury these ten gems were chosen, and India can’t be more proud.