Aneesh Chaganty is no stranger to unconventional storytelling. The 26-yr-old Asian filmmaker has taken the global box office by storm. Before he got his dream job making commercials for Google and before his first feature film took home the top audience award at Sundance, there was “Nug.”
“I cannot believe…” Chaganty said by phone during a day of press for “Searching,” his directorial debut. “I want to tell every one of my high school friends when I made that: ‘Who would’ve thought I would be talking about ‘Nug’ now?’”
The 5-minute short film – his first short film ever shown publicly – tells the story of a gun entirely in reverse. It took home his high school film festival’s award for Best Short Film (he still has the award on his desk) and the 11-year-old video currently sits at less than 2,000 views on YouTube. But while Chaganty admits the details of the plot are confusing, for “Nug” to exist as part of his origin as a filmmaker makes sense.
Indo-American filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty, whose roots are in Hyderabad. Chaganty worked for a couple of years at Google before gravitating to full-time filmmaking.
His stunning directorial debut, “Searching”, is set in the cyber universe where a distraught father attempts to locate his missing daughter.
Interestingly, Chaganty, who grew up on a staple diet of Bollywood and Hollywood films, pitched “Searching” to the studios as an eight-minute short film. The producers suggested Chaganty turn it into a full-length feature film. The director initially declined the offer, arguing that he didn’t want to stretch a good idea beyond a point.
However, Chaganty did finally make “Searching” as a feature film. Released on August 24, the film, made on a shoestring budget with Korean star John Cho in the lead, has already established Chaganty as a filmmaker to reckon with. The ultimate compliment for this small-budgeted blockbuster came from the “Crazy Rich Asians” crew when they booked an entire theatre to watch the film.
The young filmmaker names Manoj Night Shyamalan as his main influence. No doubt Chaganty’s thriller-noire approach to cinema makes him the new “Night” among Indo-American filmmakers. I fervently hope Chaganty’s career doesn’t follow Shyamalan’s trajectory.
The California native, who credits his love for film to his parents, first gained attention in 2014 with the ambitious short film “Seeds.” The video, which was shot entirely on Google Glass and contains no dialogue, chronicles one man’s journey to deliver an envelope containing life-changing news across the globe.