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Sonia Bajaj | California | Explore

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

IMDB: Growing up, I’d often hear my friends being confused about what they wanted to pursue. I always knew where my heart lies – making movies. I’d participate in radio shows, theatre plays and writing short stories. Being from Mumbai – where a majority of Indian cinema originates, my family assumed it was just a phase and I would pursue something that is considered as a ‘stable’ career. It took me a while to convince my father as he was hesitant about my choice of profession. I completed my undergrad in Audio-Visual Production. Soon, I moved to New York to pursue an MFA in Filmmaking from the New York Film Academy and graduated with honors. I’ve directed and produced over 10 short films and have won 25 awards and 17 nominations at prominent film festivals nationally and internationally. It took me 12 years to get to this point in my career, and every day I feel like there’s so much more I want to do! Being a filmmaker keeps me constantly inspired and excited to wake up each morning. Work doesn’t feel like work when your passion becomes your profession.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

When I used to watch How I Met Your Mother back in India, I’d imagine myself as Robin Scherbatsky – moves to the US, makes great friends and eventually finds success in her profession. When I moved here, I wasn’t able to make friends and find a support system unlike what I had in India. Initially, that took a toll on me mentally and I felt lost. As time progressed, I kept reminding myself that this is a journey I undertook alone and the only direction I will move ahead is forward. I learnt to enjoy my own company and became headstrong. My spirituality also kept me going.

What books are you currently reading?

Bhagavad Gita, Karma by Sadhguru and The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?

To understand the difference between an honest criticism that helps you get better at your work versus someone pulling you down due to their own insecurities.

Don’t apologize for being inexperienced – ask, research, learn and grow.

What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

Explore as many avenues as you can. When you’re absolutely sure of what brings you happiness, go for it. Learn to travel by yourself, go inwards – meditate, disconnect from social media every now and then to recharge. Always prioritize your mental and physical health.


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