Without any professional training to stand out and learn along the way while assisting in various departments of filmmaking, young Prashant Johari was finally able to fulfill his directorial dreams.

“I never went to film school, instead I went to watch movies, something I’ve been doing since I was a kid,” he says.

Hailing from Patna, Johari (29) says: “I remember going to the movies with my parents. Then enjoyment became an ever-growing passion. In Bihar we have no career options other than technical, medical or government job. So in high school I joined the IPTA group to learn the basics of acting.”

Moving in the field of directing, Johari decided to take a mass communication course. “I have been admitted to NIFT, Kunnur, so that I can take a step closer to the world of cinema through fashion and obtain a professional degree at the same time. There I started a drama club and started training others. I did a lot of theater there for four and four years. Then I got a job at a fashion company in Delhi.”

Johari wanted to join a film institute, but that was not possible at the time. “I had to pay a student loan, so I couldn’t afford a film course. It was during that period that I saw one of my favorite directors, Imtiaz Ali’s tamasha and decided this was what I wanted to do and it was that very night that I quit my job. I went to Mumbai (2016) and started helping to design and write costumes. I even did ghostwriting”

There he met his college senior Praneet Verma, also from Bihar. “Verma wanted to set up his production house and so we became a team. We started working on a web series but had to stop work due to lack of money and ended up making a short film Antarman but it could not find any buyers. Failure has been my greatest teacher.”

The youngster then started working on the film Strange couple. “We wrote the story together based on platonic love, I wrote the screenplay and the dialogues. The film was completed in 2019 and we sent it to the festival circuit. It traveled to ten festivals, including New York, Ireland and across India.”

But a setback awaited him. “We were scheduled to release the film in 2020, but the pandemic hit and its release was pushed. The delay was depressing and heartbreaking. It was last month that it could be released but in select theaters and now streaming on OTT where it is getting good response.

Johari just wrapped up the script for a movie Happy Birthday Mama which he plans to film in the slums of Mumbai or Pune.

When asked about plans to film a project in his own belt, he says: “My stories are based on pan-India, but we have characters from the north. Like Divyendu, Sharma is a Bihari and we have a taxi driver from Lucknow, as I often visit the place because of my relatives. I have also written a web series focusing on Bihar, UP and Delhi. Looking forward to shooting there soon.”

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