Film and academia propels Parichay to centre stage in India

If this profile is anything to go by, Parichay Patra is the ideal student – passionate about his scholarly discipline, open to new ideas and experiences, with a proactive attitude.

Parichay is now working in Goa, India in a post-doctoral academic role at Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS).

Parichay Patra.

Here is his profile…

Name: Parichay Patra

Course: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Film & Screen Studies

Campus: Caulfield

Year graduated: 2016

Current position: Assistant Professor, Dept. Of Humanities & Social Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, Goa, India



How did you land your current job?

I started applying to many places for teaching and post-doc positions from October 2016 onwards, as I graduated formally at the end of the month. BITS Pilani is one of the best technological universities in India with three domestic and one overseas campuses located in Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai. I applied for an assistant professor position at the Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences. I was interviewed by all the campuses except Pilani (there is a separate faculty-level interview conducted by every campus) through October and November over Skype, as I was in Melbourne then. It was followed by a final round interview in March 2017. That was also on Skype as I was vacationing in a Scottish village after a successful symposium in London. I was offered a position and was given the choice of any of the three campuses. I rejected the UAE option and settled for Goa, as Goa is an amazing place and it hosts the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) every year in November.  

How did Monash help get you to where you are now?

A PhD from Monash helped me in many ways. Firstly, I went through a rigorous writing exercise and the experience will help me in future when I myself will be supervising doctoral candidates. Secondly, I was able to collaborate with scholars working in Australia, co-organized conferences and film festivals, co-edited a couple of books published from Routledge and Palgrave Macmillan, got versions of my thesis chapters published, travelled all over the continent and beyond to share my thoughts with others. All of these things helped me immensely and contributed in the development of my profile as a budding academic and researcher. After coming back to India I got job offers from a number of places, was interviewed by a few, and am going to be interviewed by a few more. I believe it’s primarily because of my publication records that I developed carefully in my Monash days.

What advice would you give your first-year Uni self?

My discipline involves the university as well as the cinephiliac world outside. I tried to engage as much as possible with the cinephilia that characterizes the city of Melbourne, its cinematheque, its festivals (especially MIFF) and its DVD markets that often unearth generic gems. I would like to advise my first year uni self to explore these opportunities in greater detail, along with the excellent DVD library that Monash possesses.

What did you wish you knew before going out into the workforce?

I wish I knew it is absolutely essential to perform well in front of an audience when the interview panel asks you to give a teaching demonstration.

Who has been your biggest mentor?

My supervisor Belinda Smaill was one of my mentors at Monash. She is amazingly hardworking, and she always makes sure that your project is not getting derailed. The people I met during my stay in Monash, ranging from Lesley Stern to Mariano Mestman, influenced me in ways more than one. Mariano will be inviting me as a visiting scholar to his centre in Universidad de Buenos Aires soon. But the biggest mentor has been, without doubt, Adrian Martin. I audited one course with him before he left Monash, and, eventually, Australia. But those four months passed in a trance. The (Indian) cinema studies tradition that I come from is oriented more towards the social sciences. Adrian restored me to the world of cinema.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I know not where I will be in a decade, that’s a long time. It depends on many things; global politics, position of humanities within the university system, changes in my own discipline that are increasingly visible, my relationship with my partner and the possibilities of moving together. But a few things I will certainly do. I will co-edit a collection of essays on Lav Diaz, the Filipino auteur I am immensely interested in, with my Monash colleague Michael Kho Lim. I will publish my thesis in book form after making many changes to it (the effort includes learning Spanish for a period of archival research in Buenos Aires in near future, apart from many other things). I will try to learn good French and to pick up some more Spanish. I will publish more in journals that are relevant in my discipline. Apart from the revised thesis I am thinking about another monograph, the ideas of which are gradually germinating in me.

What was your very first job?

I worked at the Dept. of Media and Communications, RMIT University, as a casual academic/sessional tutor (July-October 2016).

Were you more of a planner or a crammer when it came to studying?

A planner, of course. I have always been quite organised when it comes to my academic work. I don’t think you can survive in today’s academic world if you are not a good planner. But when I write something on my own, when my movement is relatively unrestricted, I try to avoid familiar academic modes of reading and writing, I prefer interpolations.

Any hidden talents?

Not that I can think of. I am an academic and most academics lack talents, the reason why they have ended up where they are now. Of course you are free to find talent in me, if you consider watching more than 50 films in MIFF a talent!

Any pets?

Nope. But my partner is a cat person who is gradually turning me into one of her kind.



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