Praveen Yadav | Jul 25, 2021 | 0
Priyanka Jasani – a Storyteller, Singer, Writer, Director and a Performer
Priyanka Jasani is a Storyteller, Singer, Writer, Director and a Performer. She finished her graduation in filmmaking from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and College, Bangalore in June 2019. She had also interned in an Ad Film Production house as a part of her internship period in her college – Oink Films: Where she worked as an Assistant/Director’s Assistant which left her with a great deal of creative experience.
Here is Priyanka Jasani in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) How did your journey as an artist begin?
My mother introduced me to music and dance while I was a child. She was an exceptional Garba dancer(gujarati folk dance) and knew other western dance forms as well. She was called to judge shows for traditional folk dance competitions. And later she started teaching dance to small kids as well. It used to give me immense joy looking at my mother expressing herself so freely and effortlessly. She was so graceful that it felt divine. And that’s the moment, I think I became an artist with regards to the need for self expression and the immense joy of putting out all your emotions nakedly through music and dance. I started learning dance and classical music from a very young age. And gave my first solo performance ever on “It’s the time to Disco”, I guess I was 8-10 yrs old. And the liberation was just magical. The music made me travel to a different world which felt was solely meant for me. And That’s when my journey as an artist began getting inspired by my mother.
2) Tell us about your journey while creating Papa Ki Mathematics.
It was an adventurous journey where I was experimenting a lot with my lyrics, visuals and storytelling in general. So I really didn’t know if my visalization is going to work out or not. But I also had the faith that it’s something very raw which came from my heart. So it was worth giving it a shot. It’s something I created during lockdown. Having a single parent that too the one who is like an army officer – strict and disciplined had made my life miserable, so staying in the same house was getting really exhausting for me due to his demands with regards to food and perfection , as that was the only thing which gave him solace while we all were quarantined. But little by little , it was ruining me also from inside, so I decided to completely change the scenario for myself, hence created something comical out of something so serious to cope up with my situation. I started being more resilient just to analyze my dad’s character and in fact started observing him while he used to scream and shout at me – \thus realized that he is just like mathematics – a man with logic. For him 1+1 = 2 , It can never be 1.99 or 2.1. So he was never wrong but maybe his way of communication wasn’t right which used to trigger me. And that’s when I started comparing his demands with regards to food with mathematics. But I was very sure that I wanted to make it light hearted and funny which in turn could help me cope up with my situation. In the process, I realised my patience towards my father had risen like never. And in turn he also didn’t have a stimulus to react. So he became a little calm. Later, I found a music producer/Rapper with whom I connected through Insta. I really liked the vibe of his songs and hence felt that he could give justice to my song. He later replied looking at my message and was really excited about the project as soon as he read the lyrics. It was something very different for him. Hence we created a mix of rap, melody and poetry. His tune had given a new life to my lyrics. We went ahead and created a melody. I had never rapped before but always had a soft corner for music since childhood when first I was introduced to classical music. So I went ahead and thought of recording the song by myself as I felt that who can tell this story better than me as it’s my own. It was challenging but cool too. I used to practice a lot til the time I got it right. Once the song was ready, I wanted to challenge myself visually as a Director. So I wrote a screenplay based on my vivid fantasies of telling this story, listening to the melody more than 100 times. After writing a screenplay, which made my heart race faster thinking if it’s going to workout or not. But the only thing which helped me fight it and take a leap of faith was – regret. I just closed my eyes and asked myself if I want to go ahead and experiment and see for myself or play safe just because of the fear of failure. And my intuition did guide me and hence I started preparing for my shoot. I made sure that I had a detailed screenplay and shot division too as a Director. As this was all during quarantine, I did the Art Direction as well. I had a big list of props which I had to make, hence went forward and started creating them as well. Gave myself deadlines for the pre production process. Had a room full of props ready before my shoot began. This was the first time I was acting as well and that too with my father, I was really nervous but kind of excited too. The Cinematographer was also really excited about the shoot as it was pretty exciting for him to be a part of something so different. We went ahead and shot it in 3 days. And thereafter edited it myself in a week , got the vfx done as I had planned. But because my vfx was a little complicated, the budget I got for my vfx work was way beyond my capacity. But then,I found someone called Mr. Rajat Subhro who had done some exquisite work in the Bengali Film Industry with his team. He saw the edit of my music video and found the concept extremely unusual. Hence he agreed at a very minimal amount and told me that he actually agreed to do my project at such a minimal amount just so that he would get to experiment and play with his creativity at a challenging level. And as soon as I released my music video, the response was just so positive that I couldn’t believe that people could relate to it and appreciate it as well. They enjoyed themselves as it was something different I offered to them. A lot of people were stunned by my concept and visualisation. In fact a lot of people personally messaged me saying that they had been singing the chorus repeatedly as it was so catchy and cool. And I think that was my achievement to this beautiful journey of creating this song from scratch.
3) What was your visualization as the Director of this song?
I had created 4 different characters –
● One was a schoolgirl – who was trying to solve all the problems going back to her childhood with her mathematical equations to decode her route to mend ways with her father. I also created this character emphasizing her to solve the mathematical problems as I found Mathematics (logic) a bridge to communicate with my father.
● The second was the character of a girl who is cooking in the kitchen and all she can think about is food. And she expresses her frustration for her father in the kitchen using different props, messing things up in the kitchen and in a box full of vegetables (trying to show her trapped in a box full of veggies).
● The third character is kind of showing the beautiful moments she shared with her father which are worth cherishing and makes her realise the love of her father.
● The fourth Character was just a self expressionist character as a singer and performer enjoying its entire journey. I created a screenplay with these bunch of characters on different backgrounds to emphasize the moods of different characters. Using different kinds of props was my way of representation. Using VFX in the entire song was something I was extremely keen to experiment with as I felt that if I could dream and visualize it, I could definitely make it happen. And I am glad I did that as it gave an animated cum international appeal to my song. And actually, that’s something which was most appreciated by the audience.
4) How is this rap different from other kinds of raps? How is this a melody rap with a story and positive message?
I feel it’s quite different because honestly, I didn’t treat it as a rap initially, when I first started writing it, I thought of it as a song but the way I had written had a rap tone to it and that’s why I ended up making it a rap. And also my aim was to tell a story of a girl who is living with her father and is fed up with his demands and perfection related to food hence felt like quitting, and started missing the presence of her mother. Her feelings were so strong and transparent that even though she enjoyed cooking she used to mess it up when she used to cook for her dad. Basically, her feelings had a direct correlation with the food she used to make. She unconsciously used to channel all the negative energy while making food for her father and that’s why she ended up messing with her meals. But then she calmed herself down, realised that she has to be the bigger person here and tried understanding the raw love of her father hidden behind his aggressive outward personality and hence forgave him. She realized that she can’t change a 60-year-old man overnight but she can definitely try to change the way she deals with the situation. Hence she started taking everything her father used to tell her with a pinch of salt. Now her this attitude affected the food she used to make. Thus the food she made now was filled with love which reached his father hence “good food” was equal to “good mood” for the father at the end of the story. And in the mathematical sense, LHS became equal to RHS.
5) How is it visually different from other kinds of raps?
I feel personal, I am a storyteller! So for me, if I don’t have a story running at the visual level, I don’t feel it does enough justice to the feel of my song. As we human beings are privileged to have an audio-visual sensory, why don’t we use it to its maximum to give our audience the kick of the emotions with the way we chose to communicate. A lot of rappers don’t choose to communicate through the visual medium much intensely, they focus more on their song. So, I feel that’s more objective. But me being a Director as well, I try to balance both my song and visual representation of it. I like to challenge myself at every level.
6) What was your inspiration behind your music video “Life Jacket”?
Life Jacket was more like a song, I had written to myself while we all were quarantined just to give myself enough strength to pass through this period with positivity than looking at everything negatively. So it was something I had initially written for myself but thought of creating something out of it to encourage others as well because we all were in the same boat. Life Jacket is like breaking the monotony of life by exploring the untouched avenues of happiness just by hearing your inner voice. The aim here is to encourage you to listen to the voice of your heart which often gets drowned in the daily battle of life and family responsibilities. And so it’s not a bad thing to be frozen in time- it’s actually life gifting you a life jacket.
7) How did you introduce the character of Charlie Chaplin in the visual medium? What was the key for you to pull off Chaplin’s character as an Actor? What was your preparation like?
I introduced Charlie Chaplin because of this simple reason in the way he used to perceive life. He treated everything in life with a pinch of salt. And most importantly the way he used comedy to deal with the most difficult situations of life with such tenderness. He used to convert every trouble of his life into something so comical and light-hearted that whenever we saw him, we understood that the nuances of life are in their simplicity. And I wrote the screenplay in such a way that I could remind people to look at life through his glasses and realize the importance of their being, thus stop the immense mental torture while they are quarantined. He used to say “As I began to love myself, I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “Wisdom of the Heart”. So in “Life Jacket”, I tried to show that if Chaplin would have been with us during this pandemic stuck in quarantine, how would he have dealt with this situation and accordingly wrote my screenplay and performed it as well. It was honestly extremely pressurizing to enact such a legend, but I understood that the key to getting into his skin is not taking the pressure, that’s when my being will be connected to my intuition and it will guide me through.
And hence, I honestly forgot myself, started walking like him, started doing the stupidest things to shake off “me” and get his being into mine. I watched a lot of his videos in a loop like 100 times and looked at all his movements and expressions intently. I read a lot about him to understand his mind space and his perspective towards life, his characters etc. Once I had all this taken in, I used to dress up like him, walk, talk, and move like him. I also used to move around my house reacting to day to day situations in the way Chaplin would have reacted so that I could slip him in my conscience.
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