Meet Karan, IITian behind India's first film and literature festival
The Great Indian Film and Literature Festival (GIFLIF) needs no introduction. Started in 2012 by Karan Kukreja, it's India's first film and literature festival that combines both to put out a unique experience. In a society that's increasingly distancing itself from serious discussions surrounding film and literature, Kukreja is part of a small group fighting to keep the interest alive. Here, we interview him.
Karan spoke of shifting from an engineering background to arts and culture. After graduating from IIT, he worked at ONGC's offshore rig before gradually shifting to GIFLIF. He started wanting to have his own project. Interested in video editing since college, he founded White Walls Media. The video production service worked on festivals like Ladakh Film Festival, before making their own product.
Skilled at networking, managing people and events since college, Karan felt the need to think and do something outside the box. Thus he gave up his cushy job. He says his family members didn't need much convincing about doing something he loved. Although inclined towards film and music, Karan included literature in GIFLIF, feeling that scripts, which are precursors to films, are literature too.
GIFLIF has always tried bringing a unique experience to a diverse crowd. Karan spoke to us about it, saying GIFLIF was India's only festival combining film and literature. He continued that GIFLIF's uniqueness lay in introducing local talent on the same platform where they had noted personalities like Gulzar. GIFLIF also gave acclaimed actor Piyush Mishra a platform to launch his band Ballimaaraan.
GIFLIF, Karan says, stands out by creating a buzz in cities it is held, due to local participation. It also seeks to deliver unique experiences, and we were told that GIFLIF made a world record, organizing a poetry recital on Gurugram's Rapid Metro ride. Reading poetry on a metro or a cruise seems to be GIFLIF's unique way of blending art with the environment.
GIFLIF's magic is due to mentalist Abhishek Acharya, who Karan claims, mystifies him with mind reading abilities. Acharya's most impressive feat on the GIFLIF platform had been to read the entire audience's mind in one go. His popularity has made him a GIFLIF regular.
Karan told us how the eminent board of mentors including Piyush Mishra, Subhash Ghai became part of GIFLIF. It took hard work and a year and a half of networking and finding right connections. Karan's college senior, a film industry writer, was his first contact. His biggest challenge was the core team splitting. Thanks to numerous young dedicated volunteers, GIFLIF returned bigger and better.
Karan shared his insight regarding GIFLIF's changing audience over time. He said how they wanted to keep experimenting by adding new aspects to the festival while sustaining old ones. Analyzing the falling trend of people watching films, preferring streaming services like Netflix instead, Karan decided to make film screenings at GIFLIF an interactive rather than visual experience, by inviting people involved in said projects.
Karan outlined how GIFLIF planned on changing with the live entertainment industry, by adding new experimental content. He also outlined his plans of trying to get foreign directors, writers or filmmakers to be part of his festival. GIFLIF seems to have a solid plan of expansion in place as Karan plans to take the cultural festival global, starting with places like Canada and Dubai.
GIFLIF is primarily a festival catering to the youth. Karan left them with a message, saying "People should experiment and try out things. Be open to failing. But then if you keep on doing things, then things keep on happening. Let your interest drive you".