Varsha Panikar (They/Them) are an independent non-binary and QPOC writer, award winning filmmaker, mixed-media and voice artist based out of India. Drawing inspiration from dreams, memories, fantasy and evolving sociopolitical perspectives and narratives, they wander through their mind and pick up whatever is lying around on any given day and write. It's the conduit through which they express and interact. They are interested in stories that so personal that they become universal, the kind that riff on their own strifes with identity, oppression and mental-health. Their stylized narrative involves multidisciplinary practices where they like mixing various mediums of art and performance together. Regardless of the medium, they like to do a bit of everything from branded advertising, independent audio-visual films, writing fiction and non-fiction to delving into the sphere of art, poetry, photography and performance. They have worked with brands like Snapchat, Kellogg’s, SignEasy, Gits & Universal Studios.
Their latest visual-poetry, Bodies Of Desire, an award winning visual poetry, which they wrote, voiced and co-directed, premiered on Nowness Asia and has been curated by GirlsInFilm and Nowness in their #LoveSick series. Bodies of Desire is also a part of and one of the #FiveFilmsForFreedom 2021, an initiative by British Film Institute's LGBTQIA++ festival - BFI Flare and British Council, that champions five films each year in support of LGBTIQIA+ and showcases the films in over 200 countries and principalities in various languages. Bodies Of Desire, won Special Jury Award The Best International Short at RIO Festival De Cinema LGBTQIA+ 2021. It also won Bronze Best Music Video at Global Indian Film Festival 2021. The film has been officially selected at 27 film festivals so far, including BFI Flare(UK), Berlin Commercials (Germany), Toronto Queer Film Festival, Les Mains Gauches (France), Queer Womxn Fest (London), Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (Australia), Athens Fashion Film Festival (Greece), Chennai International Queer Film Festival (India) and more. You may visit the film's official page HERE.
False Promises, another spoken-word film, which they wrote (poetry) and voiced released on 29th Oct 2020 and received a special mention and Certificate of Excellence at the 11th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival 2021. The film has also been curated by Homegrown. Their debut Music Video - Maya featuring the India Prog-Rock band, Coshish was listed in the top 10 Music Videos by Rolling Stones. They occasionally collaborate with their long time colleague and co-director Saad Nawab on branded and commercial content. You may see their work HERE.
You can read their essay "Labels, In a not-so-perfect world", reflecting on their experiences with labels with respect to the discourse around gender and identity, on The Lipstick Politico. Their photo-poetry zine, ‘Whisperings To My Shadows’ was showcased at ‘Queer Futures Archives’ at Parramatta Riverside Theater, Sydney – as a part of ‘Burn All The Books That Call You The Unknown” exhibition - alongside their pieces from ‘Bodies Of Desire’ - their ongoing sketch-poetry series. "Daydream' from their series 'Dream Diary was published in the zine, 'The Dreamer Issue' by The Local Color Zine. Their work has been featured by Pinjratod. They have also been published by The Rights Collective together with guest editors South Asian Sisters Speak (SASS) in their 5th edition of Zine, titles 'Resilience' with, and then again in their 6th edition of Zine, titled Brown Bodies, which features a few excerpts from Varsha's ongoing mixed-media-poetry series, Origami Folds. Their poems and artwork from the series Bodies Of Desire have been published in ‘Rogue – The Zine’, available on Amazon Kindle. Their first anthology titled, The End of The Line, is currently in production for publication. You may read their blog and other published work HERE.
Varsha also moonlights as a voice-over artist for brands and enjoys collaborating their voice in-and-with art, photos, or videos, apart from performing Spoken-Word. They are currently working on ‘Origami Folds’, an ongoing and evolving mixed-media-poetry series, which explores themes of identity, representation and commodification of beauty in the post-modern-globalised society and culture, through the lens of south-Asian, queer and marginalized bodies.