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The story of a civil servant unfolding into an Ironman, a film by Shivam Aher

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Little did this Jack know his game of curiosity in knowing how a camera works would actually bring out the filmmaker in him. Shivam Aher, a 26-year-old Nashik boy, has recently taken up an interest in creating films on individuals pushing themselves to achieve something extraordinary.

From Policeman to Ironman’ is one of his recent works featured IPS Officer (City Police Commissioner) Dr. Ravinder Kumar Singal preparing and completing the Ironman Triathlon circuit in France in 2018. Shivam takes Inspire Crew through the journey of making this film and much more.

Never trained into the profession, Shivam is a self-made filmmaker. Actively practicing Parkour in his backyard, his goal was to shoot his abilities and share it with the world over the internet. Placement of cameras, angles, light exposure, shutter speed, he started to experiment with all of it to capture better footage of himself. Tweaking the variations helped him get better and better at filming. Editing the footage was a deeper dive into his potentials, thus sparking the passion of a filmmaker in him.

He gradually went on to make a profession out of his passion. In his 7 years of a filmmaking career, he has experimented with music videos, commercial ads, tourism videos, drone shoots and a lot more. His notable adventure film was featured at BANFF (world's largest mountain film festival).

In August 2018, Shivam came across (Dr.) Ravinder Kumar Singal’s achievement buzzing all across media. Dr. Singal is the only IPS officer to participate in the tournament.

Shivam says, A high ranking police officer in his 50s attempts to finish the toughest triathlon that too in under 8 months of training, I mean that is inspiring on so many levels to so many people.”

Ironman Triathlon is known for its toughness and difficulty. Participants compete on three levels; a 42km run, a 4km swim, and a cycle for 180kms. The entire circuit must be completed within 16 hours. I just felt this story needed to be shared in our community. People don’t take sports and health seriously in India. His story was an answer to people’s general excuses, like ‘I’m too old now’, ‘never get time from work’, et cetera, et cetera. If he can do it, so can you, it is that simple.”

He definitely felt motivated to see what Dr. Singal had achieved at this age and reached out to film this into a short documentary. The film ‘From Policeman to Ironman’ was shot post the competition event.

Behind the scene while shooting at Mr. Sigal's house in Nashik
Behind the scene while shooting at Mr. Sigal's house in Nashik

Shivam shares his interaction experience, He is very gentle and a straightforward person to work with. It was tough to get dates and create plans for the shoot as his schedule is very hectic. It took us a good couple of months, but we managed to finish it. Once the shoot started, we pretty much had a smooth sail.”

I rarely needed to direct him. He understood the concept and was in his most comfortable self. It came naturally to him, he worked out his routines and I captured all of it without letting my presence felt.”

Recollecting some of the best memories from the filming of this documentary he shares, I got a close look at the life of a police officer. I had the opportunity to be in meetings and follow his work routine. The life of a police officer is definitely no fun and games, it’s a serious business and a twenty-four by seven job. I observed many intense situations and conversations. I made my notes too to use them as reference points for my future film concepts. Someday I will create a fictional character where this material will come in handy.”

Dr. Singal’s commitment to the documentary was solid, there were no major setbacks faced by the team. The shooting period only got extended as the commissioner often has to respond to duty calls at all hours of the day.

Still from a film Ironman.
Still from a film Ironman.

The original edit of the film had content that needed to be removed on the lines of censorship. Some information and views could not be put out as the audience may see it under the wrong light. This was Shivam’s only regret, he says, Professionally I totally understand it, but as an artist, I wish for an ideal world where people can express the way they want to without anyone getting offended.”

A quick fun fact did you know Dr. Ravinder Kumar Singal’s daughter, Ravija Singal also trained with him to participate in the same event at the same time?

Here’s what we got to know from Shivam, I wasn’t aware of her participation at first. While interviewing his friends and family, I learned. It was quite surprising for me. I realised this wasn’t a typical family that you’d come across every day. I knew the weight of this information. Though the film circled around Dr. Singal, I made sure to shine some light on his daughter Ravija to show the shared spirit in the family. I mean who gets to participate in a sports event these days with their father?! That too an event like the IRONMAN!”

Shivam described the bond Dr. Singal shared with Ravija, They share a healthy bond which is missing in most families in India. It’s a friendship that I saw between a parent and a child, a father and a daughter. They see each other as equals, and not through gender difference or age gaps.”

The sportsmanship in both of them is the core of their bonding. A healthy competitiveness, the motivation to complete goals, and the courage to face failures.”

They both worked with each other to strengthen each other's weaknesses. While Ravija has been an athletic swimmer since childhood, Dr. Singal did not know how to swim at all. His daughter trained with him so that he could participate in the event.

Ravija could not finish the entire circuit in the Ironman Triathlon when she participated with her dad in France. It did not break her. She trained hard for the next two months and attempted the competition in Australia again. This time she came out a winner. She now holds the record of being the youngest Asian to complete the Ironman Triathlon.

Conversation with Shivam was rather an inspiring one. While focusing on his skills in parkour, he found a new love and now uses it as a medium of support to showcase people who are diligently giving their best, every day, and without excuses to achieve something bigger.

Shivam’s last thoughts before he signs out,

If you see someone around you who is doing something incredible, don’t just admire them. Join them! Or atleast support them and make sure to share their story.”

Watch the full documentary:

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