Alumni exhibition in India

Alumni testimonials from India

Sarnath Banerjee

Sarnath, a graphic novelist, filmmaker and co-founder of the comics publishing house Phantomville, is the author of one of India's first graphic novels - Corridor. His work centres on everyday Indian experiences and the rapid changes taking place in the country.

What did you study at Goldsmiths and how did this prepare you for your career?
I studied the MA in Image and Communication (now MA in Photography: The Image & Electronic Arts), a nice hybrid course that had elements of both theory and practice. Goldsmiths is always electric, with so many ideas floating around, and it was easy to catch one and pursue it for a while. I enjoyed the lectures, seminars, peer-to-peer interactions and occasional drinks with the tutors. The whole course had a nice balance of old and very new ways of thinking, which is rarer than you’d think. Having a degree orientates your thinking in a certain way and gives you a kind of quiet self-confidence and access to a vast network of people. Being a Goldsmiths graduate undeniably has a certain cultural cache, but that’s just a cosmetic reason to go to an institution. For me, it was the inner Goldsmiths life that was more important in terms of what I ended up doing.   

You've described yourself as a recorder of a rapidly changing India. How so?
Quite simply, I record the current anthropology of an evolving society. I've previously done this through mainstream graphic novels but I'm slowly drifting further and further into alternative comics. 

Where do you work?
Everywhere, from bars and cafes to the many cemeteries near where I live in Berlin. Sometimes I take the Ringbahn, the overhead train, and go round and round the city, which gives me a sense of exercise. 

Besides graphic novels, what else are you working on at the moment?
I write a half a page column for The Hindu, which is an Indian newspaper, and I also teach at the Summer Academy in Salzburg. I'm becoming increasingly interested in the subject of marginalia and the art of annotation. 

Dheeraj Akolkar

Dheeraj’s work has included BAFTA and Oscar nominated feature films and shorts. He is the associate director of an independent film festival called Bombay Mix and founder of a charity called Grassroots Stories which specialises in making films that can inspire social change.

You’re a writer, director, cinematographer and producer. Which role holds the most enjoyment for you?
I like writing and directing the most. Writing is very primal, it’s between you and your computer or paper. While writing you can become very close to your film, and know it intimately. While directing, you get to realise what you have written. It’s extraordinary to work with artists in front of the camera and from behind the camera, travel through many ups and downs and stay true to your vision… It’s true that while writing you are directing, and while directing you are writing! 

What advice would you offer to graduates looking to use their knowledge and break into the industry?
Just keep at it! Giving up is not an option. And there are crazy times when nothing works out and there are piles of rejections, and people laugh in your face or behind your back or both! But that time is a gift - you have to use that time constructively to work on your skills and learn along the way. And this I will not say as a matter of advice, instead I want to share it from the bottom of my heart, that you have to keep knocking on those doors. It may hurt, it may hurt a lot, but keep knocking. Because one day, one of those doors opens! 

How did your study at Goldsmiths prepare you for working as a film-maker?
It has helped me immensely! Our course convener Robert Smith is largely responsible for this. He worked extremely hard for us and with us. He took us to many different places - from Working Title to The UK Film Council, from distributors and exhibitors to lawyers and independent producers. He made sure we worked hard as well. Tammy Riley Smith - our teacher on the core course was extraordinary. Both of them encouraged us to write our cinema. This fantastic exposure taught me how to put together an international co-production. Robert encouraged us to go to various film festivals where we could participate and pitch our projects, however scared we were. In this field, like any other, you need someone to advise you, someone you can talk to on creative and pragmatic levels, and Robert has been there for me and that has helped me a lot! 

What skills or knowledge have you taken from your time at Goldsmiths?
I think the most important thing has been the exposure and freedom Goldsmiths gave me. I learnt many things there. But I also worked in Goldsmiths’ library for three years, during my student days and after. And I am most thankful for that. I made wonderful friends, read a lot, saw a lot of films. It was at Goldsmiths that I started developing my first feature length film ‘Liv & Ingmar’. I am immensely grateful for what Goldsmiths has given me.

How do people react when you tell them that you’re a graduate of Goldsmiths?
I am treated with a lot of respect when people know that I am a Goldsmiths graduate! They look up to this institution, for many reasons. In the force of the current circumstances, I just hope that we do not lose what is good about this place… It takes decades, even centuries for a tree to grow and blossom, but it takes an hour to axe it down… we must not forget that!


MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship

Sabari is interested in storytelling and immersive spaces. She graduated from the National Institute of Design, India with a specialisation in Exhibition Design in 2005. After which her professional experience as a designer has given her the opportunity to work towards creating innovative, customised and context specific design solutions for projects like museums, exhibitions, heritage-management and public spaces. She has been the lead designer for 'Darshan' the Sadhu Vaswani Museum in Pune, and the Khalsa Heritage Center, Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. She has worked closely with eminent art historians, architects, filmmakers, lighting designers and master craftsmen from all over India.

Over the last seven years of her design practice, her role has blurred between a designer, an artist, a curator, and a project manager. Her current MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship (Design pathway) is an attempt to find fresh ways of expressing her combined creative energy. While doing her MA, she interned at the V&A Theatre and Performance Collections, looking at the role of temporary exhibitions in the creative and culture economy of UK. She is returning to the V&A South Asia Collections on a two-month voluntary curatorial work post her MA.

She is also conducting creative workshops for her next exhibition titled ‘Re-imagined dreams’, stories of aspirations, hope for lost dreams and re-creation of identity of ten young women survivors of forced marriage aged between 16 to 25 years, originally from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The project is in collaboration with Asha Project, a charity based in London, working for survivors of domestic violence and forced marriage amongst South Asian women. While in London, Sabari has also reconnected with her dancer-self after a gap of ten years and is now a part of the Bharatnatyam troupe called 'Beeja' led by Anusha Subramanium.


MA Arts Administration and Cultural Policy

Being an arts activist, Abhishek perceives the arts not merely a means of entertainment but as a cultural movement which can inspire, motivate and encourage the healthy, earnest and serious elements of our lives.  

In 2006, Abhishek was selected for prestigious Ford Foundation Fellowship award to study an MA in Arts Administration & Cultural Policy at Goldsmiths, University of London. Having a degree in Theatre & Film-making, it was worthwhile studying the administrative & managerial aspects of arts. The Gold-en days were full of learning and he gained a new perception of arts practices.

Back home, Abhishek was awarded with the Inlaks Theatre Award to do a performance based research into Folk theatre forms, ‘Kirtania’ and ‘Vidapat’. In 2009, he joined ‘JIYO’ as State Arts/Crafts Coordinator (the state of Bihar) - a project administered by the World Bank and implemented by the Asian Heritage Foundation; which aims to bring the benefits of an open, globalized economy by bringing the best of technology, world-class design, and business strategies to poor people whose livelihoods depend upon their ‘creative’ industries.

Gradually, his work has achieved the mission of 'Creating Sustainable Livelihood through Cultural Industries' for the crafts persons, weavers and performing artists to further set up and strengthen their own self-managed grass-root level institutions. Abhishek also works as a researcher and contributes his writings surrounding various arts & cultural issues.

Read Abhishek's full story


MA Journalism

"Studying, living and working in the UK was a huge learning experience – both professionally and personally."

Having lived my entire life within the narrow confines of Mumbai, by the time I was 21 I couldn’t wait to live on my own for the first time. With my mass media background, studying for an MA in Journalism abroad seemed like the perfect idea. I liked the idea of being in Europe, and on previous visits to the UK, had fallen in love with London's vibe and multiculturalism. I decided to come to Goldsmiths after I came to London on holiday and visited the college. I loved the atmosphere, the size, and of course, the fact that it didn't segregate international and British students - it's a wonderful place to meet new people and make friends.

Studying, living and working in the UK was a huge learning experience – both professionally and personally. The course made us work really hard and within the first week itself, we were made to hit the ground running.  After that, there was no looking back.  The course tutor gave us a lot of personalised attention, and today I can honestly say that I'm a better journalist because she made sure I worked to the best of my potential.

My favourite part of the course was where we created a local newspaper after having lived in the area for just six weeks. It was this part of the course that best prepared me for 'real' life because it taught me about working with other people, surviving under pressure and news selection. After the course, I got an internship at the BBC through a Goldsmiths alumnus. Eventually it turned into a full-time job and I worked as a researcher on foreign current affairs documentaries for BBC UK for a few months. Working in the UK media world made me realise what I wanted to incorporate into journalism back in India. Right now I have a pretty great job – I'm working as a correspondent at India Today, India's largest current affairs magazine and I'm enjoying it. My stint in London has cemented my desire to continue working and studying around the world.

It's a great time to be a journalist in India since the country is in a huge flux – there are so many stories just waiting to be reported. One of my proudest moments was a story on the identity crises of 'third culture kids' (people who are ethnically non-Indian but who've grown up here and consider themselves Indian), which was named one of Hindustan Times' twenty best stories of the year.


MA Journalism

"The atmosphere of the campus was always charged with a creative spirit and it was great fun to hold discussions with students studying other subjects."

Before coming to study at Goldsmiths, University of London, I was a journalist in India. I had already obtained a Masters degree in communication, but after working as a writer and a journalist for a couple of years, I felt the need to specialise, hone my skills and gain some experience in an international environment. Even though I received part scholarship for a journalism programme at another university in the UK, I chose Goldsmiths, not only because of its reputed Media and Communications Department, but also because it was located in London.

Our small, hand-picked class of 12 were a mix of British and international students, who supported each other through the demands of the rigorous course. The atmosphere of the campus was always charged with a creative spirit and it was great fun to hold discussions with students studying other subjects. Having lived in the halls of residence with other international students, I now have friends spread all over the world.

I had a part-time job with the Guardian Unlimited, where I worked 20 hours a week for nine months – a dream come true for a foreign student studying journalism in the UK. I was happy to be in a newsroom in London, which has many similarities to and differences from a newsroom in India. London itself is a vibrant and exciting city because of its diversity and culture.

I left the UK to return to India and the credentials I came back with opened up many opportunities. Upon returning, I worked with a non-government organisation to revive a city magazine focusing on development concerns of Ahmedabad.  Recently, I have moved into book publishing, putting to use my journalism skills in an allied field. I now have a job which demands extensive international travel, which I can cope with confidently, all thanks to the year that I spent at Goldsmiths in London.


MA Journalism

"I made some of my best friends during the year at Goldsmiths and at the end of it I was able to get a jumpstart on my career, so I can't recommend it enough."

I'm working at The Times and The Sunday Times as a sub-editor. Depending on the day of the week, I could be subbing on the news/sports/iPad or Android desks, so I don't really know what to call my position! I've also done subbing shifts with the sports desk at The Independent, PC Pro magazine and the online desk at the Daily Express and Daily Star.
So far, I've helped run, where I was writing features. I also did reviews and some features for Metal Hammer and Terrorizer magazine. I did a bit of news writing for as well.

Before I came to London, I was a technology writer for Yuva, a local paper in Bombay, and for Skoar!, a computer gaming magazine in India. As for my experience at Goldsmiths, I'd say it was the best year of my life. I had a great time on the course and most of us are still good friends and in touch today. The course itself was great because instead of spending time in the library we actually got to go out and learn by doing, which is the best approach. I made some of my best friends during that year and at the end of it I was able to get a jumpstart on my career, so I can't recommend it enough.

Content last modified: 12 May 2014

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