Supriti Malhotra: A Creative Collaboration Rendezvous

A lightbulb made of rope

Collaboration, a 13-letter word that barely encompasses what it entails: A meeting of minds, the intermingling of creative expression, and of consonance with your collaborators. As project participants introduced themselves on 11th March 2022, I looked forward to working with the group of creative individuals that form the Screen Industries strand of the India-UK Creative Industries at 75: Opportunities and Challenges (IUKCI@75) project.

But the 13-letter word required not only a meeting of minds or consonance in creative expression, it required juggling busy schedules across two different time zones. If there’s anything that has been positive about the Covid pandemic, it is perhaps that it’s taught the world to continue its daily business remotely through digital means. For many, the question of access to digital technology meant having access to an internet connection with bandwidth suitable to the individual’s needs. For others, it meant re-working approaches to creative production, and figuring out alternatives to the supply chain process and/or the actual production.

The lone music producer in their home/office perhaps was affected lesser than the filmmaker who had to figure out the logistics of shooting when an entire country was dealing with pandemic protocols. But this is a basic function of creativity: finding creative solutions to obstacles. Creative individuals engaged in some form of creative expression, either as a filmmaker or musician, a dancer or a fashion designer, would perhaps take umbrage at this dilution of the idea of creativity.

But for me, being creative, despite the obstacles of working with busy schedules on a creative expression as yet unexplored by me, meant that the IUKCI@75 project was literally like dipping my feet in water to test if it was warm enough for me to hang out. As a feature journalist and independent filmmaker who dabbles in photography and painting, art is creative exploration for me.

As our group comprising Indy Hunjan, Swadhin Padhy and Suprasanna Dindigal met for the first time, I decided to test the waters patiently. For me, that meant, guiding the ideation process through dialogue while being patient about jumping the gun on offering varied concepts. Of course, the fact that I had Suprasanna in my group, an alumnus of the Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC), informed that decision.

As SCMC faculty, I felt responsible to ensure that Suprasanna’s creative expression was not subdued in the company of experienced professionals. For me, the inaugural meeting was also figuring out the skill set my fellow collaborators brought to the group. As in the case of the writer, the painter, the music composer, the illustrator, some artistic expressions require only one person. Other creative visualisations such as making a short film require an entire team, one that is driven by the director’s vision.

So, collaboration meant realizing that the schedule, budget, skills and time available would not be sufficient for a cinematic exploration. We decided on a podcast. And we made a podcast. With none of us having worked on producing a podcast, we were each testing the waters. And as we stumbled on a few unanticipated rocks, we reached out and steadied the other. And we continued.

As a result, we conducted six interviews and published only four. As a result, I have learned what it takes to make a podcast. As a result, I’ve learned that, unlike a team project with a team leader or a film crew with the director steering the ship, any collaboration requires a meeting of minds, the intermingling of creative expression, of consonance with your collaborators.