“Just Ask Clearer Questions” – Vishnu Prasad on His Filmmaking Philosophy

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In the vast landscape of filmmaking, where stories intertwine and narratives unfold, there are artists who possess an unwavering commitment to exploring the full spectrum of the human experience. One such filmmaker is Vishnu Prasad Vijayarengan, known professionally as Vishnu Prasad, a name that resonates with empathy and insight.

Born in a Tamil family in the small town of Tirunelveli, and raised in the culturally rich city of Chennai, India, Prasad’s cinematic journey was shaped by his upbringing in a household where Indian and global films coexisted with equal reverence. Nurtured by parents who saw art and intellect as universal languages, he grew up embracing the notion of a rich patrimony that transcended cultural boundaries.

When Prasad was thirteen, he stumbled upon Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon and was instantly captivated by its extraordinary storytelling. This pivotal moment solidified his passion for filmmaking, and he began crafting his own screenplays.

Prasad’s professional journey started in 2015 when he worked as an assistant director with acclaimed Indian filmmaker VK Prakash. Observing Prakash’s spontaneous methods of extracting performances from actors left an indelible mark on Prasad’s approach. Today, he collaborates closely with actors, encouraging them to explore intuitive revelations in their performances, unearthing a truth that surpasses scripted rehearsals.

While pursuing his bachelor’s degree, Prasad wrote, directed, produced, and edited his thesis film, Blank Verse, which garnered him an award for Academic Excellence in Video/Film. This early success propelled him forward, leading to a diverse range of projects, from corporate videos to freelance ventures, where he honed his creativity and pushed the boundaries of his imagination.

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In 2019, Prasad’s journey brought him to San Francisco, where he pursued a master’s degree in cinema. He adapted swiftly to his new surroundings and immersed himself in the exploration of filmmaking. His first film in the United States, Party for One, showcased the complexities of cultural acclimatization and provided a lens to examine the intricacies of human connection.

The pandemic presented unexpected challenges, but Prasad refused to let it stifle his creativity. Amidst the uncertainties, he produced, wrote, and directed an animated short film, Red Soil. This evocative exploration of longing and identity during the pandemic struck a chord with audiences and earned him accolades.

Continuing his exploration of the human condition, Prasad wrote, directed, and produced Finding People, an experimental narrative short that delves into the beauty of fleeting connections between strangers. The film’s success at film festivals affirmed his ability to craft nuanced stories with a profound impact.

Further solidifying his reputation as a versatile filmmaker, Prasad co-produced the award-winning narrative short film Here For Now. This powerful exploration of friendship and accountability garnered critical acclaim, including recognition for its cinematography and acting.

Looking ahead, Prasad envisions a future where he continues to tell stories of marginalized communities and lesser-explored realms of human experience. He aspires to adapt literature from regions such as Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia while exploring historical epics and romances.

Through his unique approach to storytelling, Prasad unravels universal themes and sheds light on uncharted territories, capturing both the resilience and failings of our species with unmatched sincerity. He reminds us that cinema has the ability to evoke questions that lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our shared humanity.

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