The head of cinema at Birmingham Indian Film Festival, Dharmesh Rajput talks about the excitement surrounding this year’s event which marks its fifth anniversary since coming to the city
BEEN THERE DONE THAT
I’m a born and bred Brummie and have been lucky to have worked in the creative industries in the city all of my life. I’ve worked at BRMB and the BBC where I started as a phone answerer! I worked my way up across radio, television, press office, live events and finally in the online digital world. I use this experience in my full-time role as lecturer in media production at Birmingham School of Media, BCU. I’ve also worked a lot in the arts – mainly with Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage. I’ve been heading up the Birmingham Indian Film Festival since it arrived in the city in 2015 and am excited to mark our fifth anniversary in 2019!
IT’S WHAT I DO
As head of cinema, I’m part of a wider team that curates and oversees the festival. The Birmingham Indian Film Festival is a strand of the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, Europe’s largest South Asian film festival which has been running since 2010 and will continue to expand to Manchester and Bradford this year. I help curate by watching and selecting films, building relationships with partners and sponsors in the city, talent management and generally making sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible across the 10-day festival.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE?
I want to see the festival continue to grow and reach out beyond the centre of Birmingham, maybe have a year-round programme of events, possibly in unusual or non-cinema spaces. As an academic and it would be great to bring my two roles together and dip my toes into some form of practice-based research.
Marking five years with the film festival in Birmingham. Personally, I’m always grateful that I keep landing on my feet – whenever circumstances change – and I love new challenges, for example being a chair of governors at a primary school.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
Trusting yourself and not listening to the voices in your head that say you can’t. It’s ok to make mistakes, not everything has to be perfect. And always remember, most things in life are about people and relationships.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
The arts and culture – there is so much going on! I have a soft spot for everything at Mac Birmingham and Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage as they’ve provided so many opportunities for me to perform as an actor and continue to support me with the film festival. Plus the Birmingham Festivals calendar – you don’t have to miss a thing!
I love to cook. My boys often have interesting requests which challenge me, most recently cooking crab claws. And I love gardening – we’ve got a herb garden that is great to pick from when cooking.