Meet Anija Jalan, still photographer-turned-director

Anija's upcoming short film 'Panjimittayi' is getting ready for release. Photo: Special arrangement

When she started pursuing her passion, she was not aware that it was a rarity. Anija Jalan, a Kochi native, has been slowly developing her skills by taking pictures while on trips even though she was preserving memories.

When she enrolled on the visual communication course at Maharaja Women's College, Erode, photography was part of the curriculum and she followed it up with great zeal. Anija eventually joined CM Developers, a construction company in Kochi, and photography was part of her profession as she had to produce brochures and promotional materials.

All these experiences were slowly shaping Anija into a professional photographer. Soon, she turned to wedding photography. Incidentally, her assignments were mostly in Dubai, where women had more scope in the profession, "My assignments in Dubai turned easier as taking the photos of the bride during the wedding ceremony was mostly restricted to women photographers. Apart from brother and father, not many male individuals are allowed near the bride during the solemn ceremony," Anija says.

However, when she started her own studio and focussed on her vocation in Kerala, she encountered strange responses. “I started facing strange looks and strange queries like, 'What is this doing amid the bunch of photographers?'. It dented my confidence a bit and I started having second thoughts. But then I decided not to quit.”

When she found that the pictures she took were well received she regained her confidence and cemented her place in the field. She slowly spread her wings too. Anija's fascination for cinema slowly took her to still photography in movies. "I stopped feeling the cringe of being a woman photographer and continued my job with ease and joy. I faced some sceptics only on a few occasions. But that too vanished after they saw my work," Anija says.

Anija started still photography in films with Nivin Pauly-starrer 'Love Action Drama' and has completed the role in five movies so far. Now she is eyeing donning a director's hat and becoming a DOP.
The musical documentary, 'Yosha', which saw Anija as the scriptwriter, director and DOP was the first step towards the next phase of her professional life. The all-woman crew video song dedicated to women empowerment was released on Women's Day in 2022 and featured former health minister K K Shailaja, businesswoman Beena Kannan, and actors Lenaa and Sandra Thomas.

At present, she is doing the post-production of her upcoming short film 'Panjimittayi'. The song 'Kanatheeram' rendered by Vineeth Sreenivasan and Ancy Sajeev is already popular on social media. 'Work hard to achieve the dreams,' is her sole philosophy.

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