Riding on a Sunbeam: Journeys through Space, Time, Life and Love … is a special and exciting travel film that follows Mauktik Kulkarni (an Engineer turned Neuroscience student turned Zen traveler) and Sammy Jo (a Berkeley undergrad taking a gap semester) … in an unconventional touristy way.
Playfully, abundantly and on occasions, acutely, they explore the contradictions of our Indian society with interesting perspectives … exploring economically developed places alongside backward regions, staunchly nationalistic mind sets side by side with the insurgency prone pockets and the socially conservative elements that co-exist with countless liberal lifestyles … All within the same India.
Through smaller stories experienced throughout with the eyes of the two protagonists … Mauktik, who now turns to his own country and Sammy, who has never seen India before. The film creates a mosaic of India that is at once exhilarating, reflective, enchanting and laughable … in a way that has rarely been seen before.
About Director – Brahmanand S Siingh
Brahmanand S Siingh is an award-winning filmmaker (producer-director) and writer based out of Mumbai. His films like his National-Award winning feature-length documentary on RD Burman, Pancham Unmixed: Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai, (113 mins) continues to enjoy an amazing sweeping cult and critical and popular acclaim across viewing platforms.
His recent film Kaagaz Ki Kashti (Paperboat … 127 mins), a biopic on legendary ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh, has just taken-off, interestingly, first digitally, without compromising much on any other platforms.It is also set to release in theaters soon this year.
Siingh often brings out insightful, exploring and reflective dimensions in the subjects that excite him, bringing out its core essence in a soulful and captivating manner. His current feature project, Jhalki … Ek Aur Bachpan (A Different Childhood) … has already received a lot of International buzz in its development stage and has just been shot and is now in its post-production stage.
Mauktik Kulkarni, Executive Producer and co-anchor of Riding on a Sunbeam, is an engineer-turned-neuroscientist and is an entrepreneur at heart. He has been a part of two successful startups and is currently co-founder of a third startup named Wazzat Labs. He is an author, film maker, public speaker and traveler who has backpacked through more than 50 countries. His first book ‘A Ghost of Che,’ a memoir based on his solo, 8000km motorcycle trip in South America, was published in 2009 and he is working on his second book based on his one-year, round-the-world trip. He has delivered invited lectures on neuroscience, entrepreneurship, traveling, film-making and anything else that strikes his fancy. He has been a guest columnist for travel/sports and, over the past few years, gotten into film-making. ‘Riding on a Sunbeam,’ his first film project, is a backpacking film about India directed by National-award winner Brahmanand Singh. He is currently working on his second film project, which is a feature film adaptation of his book.
Samantha Jo Fitzsimons is the female protagonist of the film, Samantha (Sammy) has backpacked through more than 10 countries even at a young age of 22 years. She has recently completed her degree in Premed and Anthropology at UC Berkeley. She also did a minor in music. Before joining this film, she has tried her hand at acting, modeling and has studied film-making as well.
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What people have to say about the film :
‘Riding on a sunbeam’ tries to capture the contradictions, brutality, the spirit and strength of the most ordinary people of India. The mind boggling stories and endless diversity of our country continue to astonish us throughout the running time of this film. Add to this, to see our country through an outsider’s, an American young woman’s point of view is revealing. The way Samantha Jo, fellow traveller of Mauktik in the film, perceives India is intriguing, overwhelming, many a times embarrassing but always thought provoking.
– Tushar Paranjape, Scriptwriter, Berlinale ‘14 Special Jury Prize winner film ‘Killa’ (India)
“I sat at the edge of the seat through the whole movie. The diversities of India is captured beautifully without any judgement. It’s easy to relate to the traveler’s experience and has made me eager to start traveling locally with in India! Great work Mauktik Kulkarni. You are an inspiration to a lot of us who want to travel but haven’t taken the plunge yet!”
-Anup Balagopal, Co-founder, Torch (India)
It was an exhilarating and break-neck ride, one that I’d like to take again and again, for it’s impossible to grab and gulp and digest every incident and conversation in this film in one trip…Interesting (read: gnarled and alien) faces, wacky cultural anomalies, aboriginal dialects, boiling conversations over whistling kettles, and heaps and heaps of learning – it was good to have that feeling returned through Mauktik/Samantha/Brahmanand’s eyes. The director /DOP’s eyes take you through a 4D experience of road, rail and ruckus – discovering frames and viewpoints that the naked eye doesn’t register or recognise. For the non-believers, this film is a must watch if you want to travel, in India that is. Why? Because if an NRI corporate dropout and a US student can survive a month long rigmarole through rickety buses, spicy poori bhaaji, dancing leopards, yawning snakes and misled communal fanatics and wretched politicians – then truly anyone can.
-Protiqe Majoomdar, Writer & Lyricist (I Am Kamal and others)
“I watched the documentary. Twice! I am very happy to be associated with the film and know the filmmaker Mr Mauktik Kulkarni, who gave me the opportunity to live vicariously through his book and now, this film. The film has hit upon so many socio-cultural aspects entrenched in Indian society, that most Indians would not know existed (I certainly am one of them). I always feel like I need to travel more, but have not been able to, or perhaps have not been sufficiently motivated. Mauktik’s film has given me new hope and inspiration, to get off my armchair wanderings in thought and actually hit the road!
-Suvid Nadkarni, PhD, Applied Materials R&D (Singapore)
“Great film … much more than just a story of a man’s travel across the country. Helps you understand India, understand how and what people think in our country, and will force you to think and question your own concept of right and wrong. Over and above this, a lesson in diversity of India. Well made. Deserves to be watched more.”
– Sumit Saurav, CEO, Campus Diaries (India)
“In the movie, Mauktik and Samantha truly embody the adventure that is India. A gripping move that takes you through the nooks and corners and, highs and lows of this vast and diverse country. Given how little the modern/urban Indian is exposed to the “real” India, bag packing across this country can be an eye opener in many ways. I will like to congratulate Mauktik for going an extra mile and getting this bag packing experience delivered to his audience.”
-Apoorve Shende, VP, Goldman Sachs (India)
“Great to see an Indian discover just how incredible the real india is and to capture it on film. A must watch for all back packing enthusiasts. Singh’s reel in classic retro hue weaves exotic newsworthy events across the land into a seamless search for its soul. “What is india and how does it function?” ask the travellers Mauktik and Samantha. A recommended advanced watch for those travellers who already have had a gentle introduction to India and are curious what it might be like to stray off the beaten track.
-Amit Puniyani, VP, Nomura (India)
“One of the things, Samantha the actor of the movie said (I am paraphrasing of course) you can spend an eternity in India but still wont understand it completely. This was evident in the first 20 minutes of the movie when they showed an ashram in Maharashtra. The rest of the hour 30 minutes continue to drop one intense experience after the other. It is a common knowledge amongst travelers worldwide that India opens your experience horizon like no other country in the world. This is true for Indians as much and I am sure anyone watching this movie would agree.”
-Pallav Jhawar, Developer, InMobi (India)
“I saw this movie in Bangalore as a part of TiE Screening. Mauktik has portrayed what a general travel documentary does not portray. He covered a range of topics/issues which I guess are not yet resolved even after 2 years since the making of the movie. At times you feel bored when you watch documentaries, but not for this! Sammy, Mauktik and the crew pulled together a brilliant documentary. You deserve a five star! Can we a get director’s cut for this? Looking forward for your new movie.”
-Mohan Gandhi, CEO, Entersoft Solutions (India)
I saw the film and it was interesting to see India through the eyes of a foreign national. And seeing India with its myriad subcultures. We may not be the cleanest country but it has been proved that the fabric of our nation is strong. It was also an engaging experience. A must watch for urban India and urban students especially. I was deeply touched by the Anandvan part…kudos to Mauktik and his team!”
-Parag Shah, Founding Director, FLAME institute & TEDx speaker (India)
“I have been tracking Mauktik for past 2 years, since he made the plans and started working towards it. It’s not a documentary first of all. It’s an experience. I love the concepts of duality and meaninglessness, and the movie is full of them. I experienced a range of emotions during the whole movie. The parts of India they have captured, and the way they have portrayed, it’s just beautiful. It makes you realise that there is so much more out there. You won’t feel you are watching something recorded, you will actually experience it. This movie is like a prism, through which you get to experience the spectrums and dimensions of India, which I am sure was totally unknown to most of us.
-Hemant Singh, Developer, Google (India)
“I’m feeling so grateful and happy that I finally got the chance to see this beautiful documentary!! Two and a half years ago, when I just met Mauktik Kulkarni and Sammy, they were just in the beginning of their crazy journey exploring different sides of India. I could not imagine I will watch it finally here in Bangalore after all this time. I am extremely moved by this one, I was crying, laughing, feeling all sorts of emotions during this almost 2 hours and was not board even for a split second. Thank you mauktik for inviting me and hope to see more screenings of this wonderful piece!!”
-Atalya Baumer, Dance Instructor (Israel)
“My love for movies and travel got me to this movie screening and I made no wrong choice. A well- crafted movie that gave me a new meaning to travel and to explore places in true sense.The movie is shot in 10 different untapped destinations within India and each place has a story of its own. The scenes, the dialogues and the acting keeps you on the edge throughout. I kept wondering what next! Beautifully scripted and edited, my special kudos to the movie editor! India exposed in the most surreal ‘incredible’ manner. My 10/10 to the entire team for putting up a great show!”
-Archana Mittal, Senior Manager, Fragomen (India)
It’s fun to watch both of them travel across India, as both of them have different perception about certain things be it travelling in buses, trains, autos or rituals, customs etc. The documentary shows the tremendous work done by Dr. Prakash Amte & his family in Hemalkasa & Anandwan. They traveled to Azamgarh in search of a person who brought himself back to life from the dead! I never knew that an association by the name of Dead Men’s Association exists in India & it’s a LIVING example of corruption in this country. The highlight of the documentary for me was their trip to North-East on a motorcycle. Do you know how many Matrilineal States are there in India? Which is the cleanest village in Asia? There are many unheard stories about north-east states which will surprise you. Rebirth, LGBT movements this documentary has it all & to call it just a Travel Documentary is a gross understatement. It’s about India, it’s flavors, colors, people… Kudos to the entire team for a brilliant effort!”
-Abhijit Nerurkar, Senior Consultant, Capgemini (India)
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Shomil Shah – +91-9819820929 || +91-22-40033477
Janhvi Vaya – 91-9833300818
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