Gary Paramanathan is a mid career filmmaker, known for his work on Colourfest, a festival celebrating films about diaspora and migrant experiences.
Sumati is a classically trained accomplished dancer and choreographer, and her presence in Parramatta is celebrated by her community and those with a knowledge of Indian dance, but she exists in a vacuum for the Australian cultural landscape.
Shaping creative cultures
Gary has been involved over the years in shaping the creative, arts and cultural landscape of Parramatta. His short documentary, Mastering the Rhythm will follow Parramatta dancer Sumati Nagpal, who runs her own dance studio, teaching Kathak (classical Indian) and Bollywood (contemporary Indian).
Q&A with Gary Paramanathan
Gary sat down to answer some of our burning questions about his project…
What drew you to this project? I’m always curious about what defines art, and who makes art, and we live in a society where if you are an artist with the right social and intellectual capital, then you can access funding and other support mechanisms, but what of the artists who don’t have access to these resources? Sumati Nagpal, a Kathak dance professional is one of these people and I wanted to explore her story.
What does cultural diversity mean to you? Cultural diversity to me is a representing Australia in an authentic and multifaceted manner, so it’s not just surfers and outback farmers, it’s everything in between, namely the people of colour who have settled in this land since colonisation, who are often left out of our national cultural narratives.
We live in a society where if you are an artist with the right social and intellectual capital, then you can access funding and other support mechanisms, but what of the artists who don’t have access to these resources?
What ideas do you explore in your film? This film was complex for me to make because Sumati has accepted her exclusion from the arts world, and has created a world herself, and so relating this back to mainstream Australian arts was the challenge for me.
Did the experience of developing this project change how you thought about your subject matter? I realised that there’s a multitude of things going on in Western Sydney, entirely funded and sustained by communities who are keen to keep culture and tradition alive. Sumati is incredibly resilient and independent, and she exists comfortably outside of the arts funding realm, I think she however deserves the support and investment other artists get to truly develop her work to a great audience.
What is you filmmaking background? I am not a filmmaker per say, I have been working in arts and culture for over five years, and in that time I have produced and curated a number of screen works, and that got me into writing and directing as well. I recently made a short film for ABC iView, titled Queen Biryani.