From a street urchin to India’s fastest filmmaker

January 23rd, 2009 - 1:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) From selling safety razors and combs on the pavements of the walled city in Delhi as a child worker in the early 1950s, Jaswin Jassi went on to become the “fastest Indian filmmaker”, a prime time TV news anchor and a commercially successful jingle producer.However, the journey was not without ups and downs. Now Jassi has bared it all in his recently released autobiography: “Have Guts: The untiring truth”.

“I was old enough, though still a 12-year-old kid, to understand the finer nuances of business. I stood in a corner of Sadar Bazar (a wholesale market in Delhi), taking out two dozens of assorted coloured combs, holding them in my left hand, putting tem together in the shape of a hand fan and shouting in a child’s loud voice,” Jassi recounts.

In his autobiography, he recalls the many nights he slept on an empty stomach, the many days he toiled hard before and after school and then college.

“I was determined to leave the pavements of Delhi and achieve something in life,” Jassi told IANS in an interview.

“I did theatre and continued to work as a salesman selling torches, safety razors and combs in Delhi and other cities till I got a break in All India Radio.”

In the 1970s he became a prominent voice on national broadcaster All India Radio. Then, within a decade, he had established himself as an independent documentary filmmaker and a well-known prime time news anchor on state-run TV channel Doordarshan.

As an independent filmmaker in the early 1990s, he shot a short film for India’s petroleum ministry in 10 Indian languages, taking three hours for the entire process. This feat got his name into the Limca Book of Records as the fastest Indian filmmaker.

“Even the officials didn’t believe it when I presented bills for making this film within 24 hours of getting the contract; they thought I was asking for an advance,” he chuckles. The book has a vivid account of how this film was shot in such a short time.

“Even the first ever documentary film produced by Directorate of Audio-Visual Publicity (DAVP, a department that handles the Indian government’s publicity) entitled ‘A touch of glory’ for Indian Air Force was made by me,” he says in the book.

Jassi was one of the prominent prime time news anchors on Doordarshan in the 1980s and 1990s, before the era of private news channels in India.

Asked why he wrote an autobiography, Jassi told IANS: “I wanted to share my struggle with common people, many of whom face adversities similar to what I faced. May be this book would provide a ray of hope to them.”

The autobiography has been published by Diamond Books.

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