In the vast tapestry of Indian cinema, some threads stand out more vividly than others. Jitendra Mishra is one such luminous thread. Hailing from the serene town of Titlagarh in western Odisha, his journey through the world of cinema is a remarkable narrative of dreams, determination, and global recognition. An acclaimed film producer and promoter, Jitendra has not only etched his name in the annals of Indian cinema but has also earned a prominent place on the global stage. Unravel the life and career of this extraordinary personality through Interview Times.
Interviewer: Jitendra, let’s begin at the very beginning. What was the spark that ignited your passion for cinema, and how did it lead you on this incredible journey?
Jitendra Mishra: Ah, the beginning! It was during my college days that I was first captivated by the allure of cinema. The glamour, the storytelling, the sheer artistry of the film industry fascinated me. However, it was my parents’ unwavering encouragement that truly set my course. They recognized my passion and urged me to follow it. I started my cinematic voyage as a humble spot boy in a Delhi-based production house. From there, it was a journey filled with ups and downs, but one that I embarked upon with sheer determination.
A Journey of Persistence
The journey of Jitendra Mishra from being a production assistant) spot boy to an internationally acclaimed film producer is a testament to persistence. His story begins in Titlagarh, a picturesque town in Western Odisha, India. Born to Radha Madhab Mishra and Saudamini Mishra, Jitendra is the youngest of six siblings. He graduated in Law from Balangir Law College in 2000 and later pursued his Masters in Commerce from Rajendra College, Balangir, affiliated with Sambalpur University.
However, his heart was always set on the world of cinema. In 2002, Jitendra took the leap of faith and founded his own production house, Cinema4good, thus officially commencing his cinematic journey. His early years in the industry were marked by hard work and dedication. He worked as a production manager in a Delhi-based production house, where he honed his skills and gained invaluable experience.
Q: Your filmography is quite diverse and impressive. Could you share with us some of the standout moments and productions in your career?
Jitendra: Certainly. There have been several significant milestones in my career that I hold close to my heart. One of the most notable productions is The Last Color, directed by the renowned Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna. The film premiered at the prestigious 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival and also had a special screening at the iconic Cannes Film Festival.
The Last Color: This powerful film, based on a book of the same name by Vikas Khanna, stars the veteran actor Neena Gupta along with young talent, Aqsa Siddique. The plot revolves around the Supreme Court ordinance against an age-old tradition of not allowing widows in Vrindavan to play Holi. The film delves deep into issues of gender equality and empowerment. Producing this film was not just a professional achievement but also a personal commitment to meaningful storytelling.
Human OAK: Another remarkable project was Human OAK, a film created during the challenging times of the COVID 19 pandemic. I had the privilege of collaborating with the talented Italian director and producer Ulisse Lendaro. The film features the celebrated Italian actress and former Miss Italy, Anna Valle. It was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem Ode to the West Wind. What makes this film unique is that it was entirely shot in Italy during the lockdown in 2020, a testament to the power of art even in the face of adversity.
Q: Your contributions to the film industry go beyond just production. Can you tell us more about your role in promoting global cinema and organizing international events?
Jitendra: Absolutely. I believe in the power of cinema to transcend borders and bring people together. Throughout my career, I’ve been actively involved in organizing international festivals, workshops, and campaigns that celebrate the diversity of cinema.
North East Film Festival: One of the endeavours I’m particularly proud of is the North East Film Festival, which we organized in all eight North Eastern states of India. It was a platform to showcase the rich cinematic heritage of the region and foster cultural exchange.
Meghalaya Film Festival: In collaboration with the Children’s Film Society India and Smile Foundation, I had the privilege of organising the Meghalaya Film Festival, an event that aimed to bring the magic of cinema to young minds.
SIFFCY: I am also the festival director of SIFFCY (Smile International Film Festival for Children and Youth), a unique film festival that I conceived and designed for Smile Foundation. This festival is dedicated to promoting meaningful cinema for children and young people.
CIFEJ: Additionally, I have been elected as the President (2020-22) of the International Centre of Films for Children and Young People (CIFEJ), a global network of films for young people formed under the auspices of UNESCO in 1955. My role is to facilitate international collaboration and promote cinema that speaks to the hearts of young audiences worldwide.
Q: With such a diverse and illustrious career, could you share a moment that you consider the proudest in your cinematic journey?
Jitendra: It’s difficult to single out just one moment, as each project and achievement holds its own significance. However, if I were to pick a particularly proud moment, it would be when The Last Color was screened at the United Nations Headquarters. This event was more than just a screening; it aligned with the United Nations’ mission to promote gender equality and empower women. The film’s powerful narrative echoed the call for change, and it was a moment of immense pride, not just for me but also for my hometown, my state, and my country.
One particularly cherished and deeply favourite moment in my life was when my mother shared a beautiful comment with the media about my work. When asked about her son’s occupation, she gracefully stated, “Mo puo film banaye. Family pai. Samaj pai. (Translation: My son makes films for family and for society).” This moment holds immense significance for me because there was a time when my mother didn’t fully grasp the nature of my work, especially since my films do not align with the conventional commercial movie genre. Therefore, her ability to eloquently respond to the media marked a significant milestone in my journey. The unwavering support of my family has been a tremendous source of gratitude and strength for me.
The United Nations Screening: A Milestone for The Last Color
The screening of The Last Color at the United Nations Headquarters was a momentous occasion. The film was chosen to raise awareness about ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The event, hosted by the SPICE-Indian Club, was more than just a screening; it was an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions on gender equality and empowerment.
The cinematic odyssey of Jitendra Mishra, from the serene landscapes of Titlagarh to the global stage, is a testament to the power of dreams and the relentless pursuit of passion. His journey, marked by persistence, meaningful storytelling, and a commitment to social causes, has not only enriched Indian cinema but has also created ripples on the international scene.
As we conclude this exploration of his remarkable life and career, one thing is abundantly clear: Jitendra Mishra’s cinematic journey is far from over. With each new project, he continues to inspire filmmakers and audiences alike. We eagerly await the next chapter in the story of this cinematic maverick, as he continues to bridge cultures and touch hearts through the medium of film. Jitendra Mishra is not just a name; he is an embodiment of the magic of cinema and the enduring spirit of a dreamer.
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