Exclusive Premiere: Indo-American Artist Chakram’s Fantastical New Audio Visual Offering ‘When Planets Mate’
The animated short film created by Rhode Island-based Riley Thompson and Joel Orloff melds the worlds of science and spirituality
A lot about multi-disciplinary artist Chakram aka Viraj Gandhi indicates that he’s a natural storyteller. Born in the town of Shreveport in Louisiana, internet file sharing platforms like Napster and LimeWire were his gateway to American cinema and music. Growth arrived as he delved deeper into creative pursuits (starting with writing) and incorporated his practice of being a Nichiren Buddhist into art. “[It] enlightened me to how physics and spirituality are far more kindred than foe,” Chakram says.
His first project “When Planets Mate” – a short film with an avant-garde/electronic soundtrack – exactly capitulates to this desire of seeking answers in creativity. The Providence, Rhode Island-based musician, director, scriptwriter and actor began working on the story to the 10-minute audio visual piece “When Planets Mate” in January 2018 and called in fellow Providence filmmaker/animators Joel Orloff and Riley Thompson in May 2019. The result is a trippy, arresting experience that wanders between cosmic metaphors and Indian mythology as well. The journey takes us from early mankind and their discoveries to snakes, Hindu god Shiva and futuristic homes. The artist says “When Planets Mate” led him to get in touch with his oft-forgotten Indianness. Chakram adds, “In making this film, I learned that my creative work can be a practice through which I can decolonize, redefine and recontextualize how I relate to my ancestry, which is still an unraveling mystery for me.”
With the music worked on over the span of a year, diving into atmospheric, electronic and acoustic palettes. “It can be an expansive and overwhelming process, but it’s important to remember that everything you need is already in the concrete block you start with. All you need to do is chip away until the secret sculpture inside reveals itself,” Chakram says.
Up next, “When Planets Mate” is going to film festivals and more, while Chakram is also working on collaborative vocal projects. There’s also a second animated short called In Search of Sumitra which is set for late 2021 or early 2022. “The story is inspired by my experiences trying to reconnect with my grandmother’s spirit in the dream dimension after her passing, and the film explores karmic ancestry within the context of the unified field and Tibetan dream yoga,” he says.