career as a copywriter in Chennai and then moved to Mumbai. In his years as creative writer he worked with agencies like HTA, Clarion, Ulka, and O&M to name a few. In 1986, he started JS Films (an Ad film production JayendraPanchapakesan studied Chemistry, but found his passion in advertising in 1978. He started his House) with P.C. Sreeram renowned cinematographer and got ad agencies and advertisers turn to Chennai for ad film production. In 1993, Jayendra co-founded Real Image Media Technologies to introduce non linear editing with Avid. After non linear editing, it introduced digital surround sound and the movie experience in theatres changed forever. Today, Real Image is known across the world for its end to end digital cinema solution called Qube. A technology that even Hollywood has chosen to use.
Jayendra is associated with various social organizations and has created films to bring awareness and funding to a variety of causes. He is also on the board of Trustees of the Bhoomika Trust which focus on relief at the time of natural disasters and in the field of education; Mahesh Memorial Trust which works in the area of cancer care, especially in children; Altius Foundation that focuses on education; and Jeevan Blood bank.
Director Jayendra tells Marie Banu how he finds time for social work.
Rules Kidayadhu (meaning no rules) is the byline of your movie 180. If you were to evade a rule, what would that be?
I meant it more as ‘freeing of the mind’. Constantly our mind gets bogged down by conventional ways of thinking and that itself is in a way a binding rule on the brain. If we start thinking that there are no rules, then the mind becomes free to think out of the box on any issue. That is what I meant by Rules Kidayadhu.
How do you think you can use the larger screen to bring about social consciousness?
Actually, when you make a film you don’t try to create social consciousness as a primary goal. Somewhere in the storyline it has to be buried somewhere so that people have the joy in discovering it and imbibing the values. After all, movie is for entertainment and we have to package entertainment to get the audiences to theatres. While we are doing this, we can slip in some values that people can unconsciously take in. Because, the minute it becomes conscious, it is like a teaching that people would resist.
About real life violence and ‘reel life’ violence. What are your thoughts on this?
Violence per say is not objectionable, because it is part of our lives in a very large way. But, the way they are depicted in cinema seems to be the problem. Somehow I think this has a certain negative effect on the society, and triggers people to choose paths that they normally would not have chosen to take. So, the violence on screen—the way it is portrayed, the kind of tools they use, and the absolute nonchalant way of dealing with such things on screen—seems to have made people immune. I don’t know whether violence excites people anymore on screen, but we seem to do it and that seems to have some larger effect on the society.
You are in the board of several charitable organisations—Bhoomika Trust, Mahesh Memorial, etc. How do you find time for social work?
I am a multitasker by nature. So, I find time for everything. My day starts at 5:00 A.M. I play golf which is a game that takes long hours. Before the day even starts for many people, I would have finished playing.
Social work is a part of my life. It is like eating out or going for a movie. If you find time for that, then you can find time for social work as well. Social work gives me joy, and therefore it is easy for me to find time for it.
Can you tell us about the educational portal that you are part of?
It is called Gift a Future—an initiative of a friend of mine called Srikanth. He asked me join his Trust Altuis Foundation as a Trustee. Gift a Future (www.giftafuture.org) is a portal where we try to bring donors and children together. We profile the children and give their background so that people can sponsor their educational expenses in parts. For instance, if the fee requirement is Rs. 3000 one can sponsor in portions of Rs. 500.
Our initiative does not stop there. We also counsel the children and organise face-to-face meetings once in every two months, which seems to have had a dramatic impact on the children. From the time this was started it is observed that the children have progressed well in their studies, and the success rate this year is huge. It was initiated to bridge the economic gap, but now it has ended up in the organisation motivating children to perform better.
You have been supporting several charities by making short films to promote their cause. Which of the social issues are close to your heart?
It is like asking what food you want to eat at what point of time. When you are facing a particular cause, you feel that one is the most important.
We have a Mahesh Memorial Trust where we support pediatric cancer care. Whenever I am at the Cancer Institute with the children affected by cancer, I feel that this is the most important cause that we have to support. When I find staff of Ekam Trust supporting children at Egmore hospital who are dying for the want of basic medicine, I feel why others can’t do something to support such children. I support Sankara Eye hospital that is doing fantastic work for the rural poor. They set up eye camps, conduct free surgeries, and offer free medications. I am a trustee in Jeevan Blood Bank and I feel that the public stem cell bank that they have launched is a big breakthrough for many Indians who may be suffering from an illness that can be life-threatening.
Wherever I am, I feel that the cause is most important. So, I cannot put my heart behind one issue alone.
Which of these roles would you like yourself to be identified with—Writer, or Ad film maker, or Director, or Philanthropist?
I constantly think about it myself, because when you look at my career path—I began as a writer; then I started an advertising agency; became an ad film maker; co-founded a technology company; made the first classical music film; and then a feature film. I also went on to do some path breaking work in patenting some technology in India and United States.
What am I? I would say that I stand for passion, because that is what drives me to do anything. I feel that somehow I have the passion to see anything that I take up.
What is your message to our readers?
Most people think that social work is giving some money, or supporting an organisation financially. Social work is lot more than that. Everybody has some skill and talent to give by which the social sector can be enriched. It requires a little bit of time from everybody. If they can give that little bit of time—it can be one off, or an interaction with a person on an occasion that requires it. I think time more than anything else is what is required from everybody. I hope they give that!