Mauraya Sharma is a 17 years old filmmaker and painter working on the complex issues of sexuality and gender. His creative urge guides him to accomplish feats much beyond his years…
A prodigy, blessed with an indefatigable spirit, curiosity and creative urge, Mauraya Sharma, 17, a class XII student of Pathways World School, Gurugram, has achieved a lot in a short time. And this is just the beginning.
One of the youngest filmmakers in the country, he started at the age of 12 as a theatre artist. Now prefers to be behind the camera directing short films that deal with complex human situations like sexuality, identity and pain. He’s also a painter, a music buff, a fashion designer, a politically aware individual with strong views. Despite his varied pursuits, he never neglected his studies and has excelled in academics as well.
Mauraya likes to make films on human situations, spaces, environment, and all of it is reflected in sentiments, art, and other modes of expression. His most recent short film called ‘Seeped’ deals with the life of a papermaking artist, Kaivalya, who uses a pulp-like substance that dries into textured paper. Her art is an exploration of sexuality, pain, filtration, and social entanglements. The film depicts, with all its nuances, the potency of a moment that can put one’s whole life into perspective. “It took seven days to shoot the film, it has three main characters,” he says, talking about the experience. And he is fairly professional about it, even hiring a renowned cinematographer Anubhav, who has worked with renowned filmmakers like Rakesh Mehra in the past.
“I belong to a big Punjabi family—filled with emotions and expressive energy,” Mauraya says, he has an enviable sense of humour. “Being a theatre artist, I witness a lot of theatrics happening in my family.” He lived in Bangalore before his parents shifted to Gurugram some ten years ago. He grew up questioning things and happenings and was not satisfied with the way normative society operates.
Mauraya explored mythology and gender issues in his early days of theatre. But soon graduated to film making as he intended to “preserve his work” and there were “very few opportunities in theatre–money of course.” This was also the time when he graduated to painting nudes, spaces, home, nature—an amalgamation of all that, venting out his creative urge into art and filmmaking.
He owns a production house by the name Painting Tongue Productions—and recently scripted and directed a short film ‘Unbinding’. He intends to send this film to various international film festivals to make his presence felt.
Mauraya has always been prolific in showcasing his talent at various forums. His films have won many awards at national and international film festivals. His film Looking through the Bamboos secured a Bronze award for the best student film by the Los Angeles International Independent Film Awards in 2018 and premiered at the 8th Workers United Film Festival in New York. His leadership roles won him two Best Delegate Award at Model UN Human Rights Commissions; his team was one of the finalists at the Mission Discovery program held by NASA and also won the International Global citizen awards for community service from 2014 until now. He has co-hosted four episodes of Bhawra Mausam at Gurgaon Ki Awaz, FM in 2018;
One needs to constantly remind themself that you’re dealing with a schoolboy. And when you do that the obvious question is: with so much happening in his life, perhaps, studies have to bear the brunt? Petite with a dense crop of curly hair canopying his diamond-shaped face, round glasses sit low on the nose, as he speaks with the conviction of a person who has experienced life: “All of it happens simultaneously—studies, filmmaking, painting—contribute to each other and are integral to the learning process.” That’s an interesting way of looking at things—and ending the binaries of work and leisure. As somebody wisely said, “Choose the job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
All said and done, the most difficult part is to raise resources for his productions. He would go and make presentations to various public sector and private companies for grants and sponsorship, but all that has come to a halt since the onslaught of the pandemic. His company now carries out commercial work, shoots adverts, does some odd graphic design projects in the media sector, and in the process, generates resources to pursue his artistic works. He also has a designated studio space where he dabbles with paint and brush.
He’s single but there were instances in the past when he had a partner. He describes himself as a “creative person who’s opinionated, follows an ideology. I love culture, my creativity is the fuel that keeps me going.” And as far as sexuality is concerned, he’s very forthright, “I’m extremely fluid,” he says without batting an eyelash. There seems to be no confusion or denial. Perhaps, that’s why he, a 17 years old boy, has made movies on women’s sexuality. And there’s nothing fanciful about it, his message is simple, “we should embrace our desire and sexuality.”