Please tell us about yourself
A sound designer’s worst nightmare is when someone says, ‘Wow, what a great sound’ … I feel, sound shouldn’t be heard, it should be felt.
In January 2016, University of Westminster alumnus Rohit Pradhan was presented with a Filmfare Award for Sound Design at a star-studded ceremony.
Rohit was awarded the famed ‘Lady in Black’ trophy for his acclaimed sound design on the 2014 film Rege. The film, directed by Abhijeet Panse, tells the story of a college teenager who becomes embroiled in a criminal underworld after a chance encounter. The film was both a critical and commercial success in India.
What did you study?
Rohit achieved an MA in Audio Production in 2006 from Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design. During his time at Westminster, he gained valuable experience in the industry through rigging at live gigs and volunteering on documentaries produced by the Department of Film and Television. He also found London an inspirational city in which to be based.
Rohit, who is now based in Mumbai, said: “Very few universities teach you how to cope with the pressures of working in the media industry, but Westminster taught me how to manage a range of people and priorities at any one time. I learnt how to manage actors, producers, suppliers, finances and all the legalities that come with running your own business. I would not be where I am today were it not for my experience at Westminster.”
He is currently Sound Designer at Mixbox Studios, India
How did end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?
Though my career had started in ’99, it took an unexpected turn when one day a colleague told me about Westminster in U.K.. When I googled, I stumbled upon University of Westminster. They had Audio Production course. So I applied. I was asked to write an essay on ‘future of audio in India’. After I submitted my essay, I was one of the 17 people they selected from 20000 applicants from all over the world. I was on cloud 9.
What did you find most valuable about your course at Westminster?
But when I went to London, I realised I knew nothing. All my previous experience didn’t count at all. I was a student again. The course was like being in a military. We were training almost 24×7. I can say, they just did’t let us sleep. To top it all, I had a Serbian professor, Matej Dimnic. Serbians are the meanest guys in a good way. He never complimented us. ‘Do better’ would be his only response and he would chuck our CDs in the trash bin. Recently, when I won the Filmfare, I wrote to him about that. ‘So?’ was his reply. That’s how he is. But all that changed me as a person. Today, when directors demand better from me, I know, I am already trained for that.
What was the best thing about being a student in London?
The best thing about studying in London was being exposed to the variety of art forms the city has to offer and the diverse cultural mix that has a unique artistic subculture to it.
What extra-curricular activities did you participate in that enhanced your time at the University?
I was very enthusiastic about helping out at the tech office, assisting and rigging for live gigs, and working on documentaries produced by the film and television departments.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career?
Be focused and passionate. The competition is cut throat and education will prepare you to be cutting edge.
Why would you recommend Westminster as a place to study?
The quality of teaching staff and facilities: it’s just extraordinary. Every professor has seen the best of both worlds, professional practice and education.
Tell us about your career path
I could have stayed in London even after the course, but I always wanted to come back to India. Because India is the future without doubt. There’s so much to still explore here. So much to do. After I started my own studio in Thane, one day, Girish Mohite asked me why am I not doing films? And that’s how I started my innings in films. After Balak Palak, people started to ‘listen’ to movies, I feel. As a sound engineer my job is to involve the audience with sound and tell them the story which is not been seen on the screen. In last few years, Marathi film industry has been going through a great transformation. People are exploring new ideas. They are experimenting with the medium. And I feel great to be a part of this process.
Glamour will end one day for me, I know it. And at some stage, I would like my assistants to take over so I can pursue my dream.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself, your achievements, life experiences, what inspires you, or your career that may be valuable or interesting to our prospective students or alumni?
After graduating from Westminster, I set up my own audio post-production studio in an old mansion just outside Mumbai. Back in 2007 we slowly started working on documentaries and short films. In 2011 I got my first major break with Balak Palak (Directed by Ravi Jadhav) which was an internationally acclaimed film.
In 2014 I was awarded the Prestigious IMFFA award for Achievement in Sound Design for my work in the film Yellow. Also, the short film Mitraa (Directed by Ravi Jadhav), for which I worked as a Sound Designer, won the National Award for the Best Short Film. I have worked as a Supervising Sound Editor/Designer on films like Rege, Timepass Part 1 & 2, Bioscope and Yellow.
My dream is to educate under privileged children. I am already doing that through my CSR Consultancy Co. We go to areas where there are no facilities. Village kids don’t want to study so we are trying to find alternate methods such as virtual education to teach them.
I also feel, there’s a lot of creative talent around us. I would like to train them, for… I believe every creative person should impart his or her knowledge. Not everyone can afford to go to Westminster but they have someone from Westminster who can teach them, so why not?