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Capturing India's Untold Stories: “The Journey On the ground with Sai”

In a world where stories often go untold, there are individuals like Sai, who are dedicated to capturing the rich tapestry of India's diverse culture and heritage. Sai, who started out as an engineer, is now a journalist capturing diverse stories of India in just 60-90 seconds through his page, On The Ground With Sai. Sai's quest to uncover the hidden gems of India's diverse culture has led him on a path filled with passion, purpose, and profound encounters.

From Calculations to Chronicles

Sai’s journey started with engineering where he learned and developed problem-solving skills. Yet, his life took a turn when he wanted to do something that was different and unfamiliar to Indian careers.

 “I always wanted to do something people-centric, something that is different from the mainstream, something unconventional, something creative… All of these things pushed me from engineering to journalism.” 

With this thought in mind, along with a deep love for travelling, he discovered that he wanted to explore India and capture its untold stories.

The Call towards Journalism

Driven by his passion for storytelling, he underwent a transition from engineering to journalism, with his family supporting his decisions. Accompanied by a curious spirit and a camera in his hand, he started on this new chapter in his life, to capture India in a different way. 

Capturing Moments, Touching Hearts

Blown by the passion for travelling, he has travelled to 17 states and shot more than 350 stories— all filmed by himself. His Instagram account, where he posts all his work, has cultivated 343K followers. What’s even more amazing is that his videos are 60-90 seconds long, which is convenient for most people to watch as they are short. 

Additionally, most of the time, journalists script out what they have to record in the video, but Sai is different. What matters to him is how much he connects to the story. With this thought in mind, Sai visits his subjects, has conversations with the people out there, records them in his voice-recorder, finding what he truly wants to convey through his video. 

Beyond Just News

Sai does not want to capture what other news channels capture, he wants to dig deeper, to show the stories that don't always make it to the news. Stories like how everyday people in India overcome tough times or do something amazing. One of his videos is about an 80-year-old man who lives alone in the jungle, and epitomizes happiness through simple tasks: chopping wood, sharpening tools, caring for birds, and crafting with bamboo. Another one is about 8 reasons to fall in love with Odisha. There are many more such interesting stories that Sai’s account has to offer!. 

Sai's Uphill Struggle in Capturing Stories

Yet, it is not without the help of struggles and challenges that he has reached this peak. In his childhood, he was an introvert— it was only later in his life journey, that he had moments where he could find his extrovert self. 

Another challenge  as he states is that, “Finding stories is hard!” It’s hard to find stories in the diverse cultures of India and to convey them in a video that’s just one-and-a-half minutes long. When capturing videos, there is often no internet access and it’s difficult to find a place to stay. 

Perhaps, the most important and greatest challenge is the language barrier. Well, to overcome this Sai says, “Most of the time people know Hindi. In the South, it’s difficult to speak those languages, but being from a similar background, it’s not hard. And in the North, people know English and Hindi. But language shouldn’t be the barrier, what matters is the exchange of emotions.” 

On the ground with Sai

What was most profound were his learnings! As he states, “Think of challenges as a river. Even though there are rocks and stones in between them, the water keeps on flowing! Be open to challenges. Don’t expect immediate results, and keep learning.” And with those learnings in mind, he is enjoying his journey:- On the ground with Sai!

Written by Bhavana Phuse

Bhavana wrote this article as a participant of the Media-Makers Fellowship's April'24 cohort.

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