A Rising Tide: India's First Surf Documentary

A Rising Tide: India's First Surf Documentary

The surfing culture in India is more than just duck dives and breaking waves; it extends itself as a deep rooted connection with the diversity of people.

The surfers represent divergence in cultural backgrounds and professions who are unified by their common love for the ocean. “I think I should be called a water man.”  reflects a young Indian surfer from Mahabalipuram, who finds solace in riding waves and learning from new experiences.

In the surfing documentary, “Rising Tide” which was created by Shaka Surf Club & Mosambi Juice productions, we get a personal insight into the lives of people who possess a strong affiliation with the ocean; some of which can be traced back all the way to the 1970’s.

“Surfing Swami “Jack Hebner, regarded by many as the pioneer of the Indian Surf scene, was brought to India in 1975 in search of uncrowded waves for surfing. “It was like I had been here before in some other life time.” he says when asked about his visit. However, it was only when he made a surf trip to India in 2005, that he got a chance to meet aspiring Indian surfers who surprised him with their promising potential.


The documentary progressively enfolds with humbling stories of locals, who found love for the sport by observing other surfers train and trying their luck with run down gear.
Velu Murugan remembers his first encounter with a surf board which he found, left abandoned, next to a toilet. Determined to make use of it, he tied his legs with a coconut rope and set out into the ocean.

One thing thats stands out as simply spectacular, is the involvement of young children in the surfing experience. Murthy Megavan, a teacher at the Covelong Point Surf School, believes in culminating the activity into the  children’s lives, by giving them free lessons and surfing gear, as long as they adhere to a few of his imposed “rules.”

The experiences of each surfer overlap with a commonality driven by their passion for the ocean, however each one has their own distinct relationship with the world of “surfing”.

Today, the growing community of surfers is expanding every weekend, which is not only propelling the scope of surfing in India but also initiating strong cultural bonds between people that are rooted in harmonizing with nature.

We spoke with the people behind the documentary, to find out the inspiration behind it:

Where did the idea of the documentary come and how did it come to life ?

Tushar and Ishita (Shaka Surf Club): “Well ever since we started surfing, we always wanted to make a film documenting the inspiring stories of some of India’s pioneer surfers. With so many people learning to surf now, we wanted the new generation of surfers to know a little bit more about our surf culture and the simple beginnings of surfing in India. With surfing becoming more mainstream, we did not want any of these stories to be lost. We hope that this film will remind us what surfing is all about and help create a closer knit surf community in India.”

Velu from Surf Wala school, with Samai from Kallialay Surf School, in Pondicherry

Most of the documentary was shot at India Surf Festival (ISF). What was the response like, when you told surfers that you were shooting the first indigenous surf film ?

Tushar and Ishita (Shaka Surf Club): “ISf gave us a great opportunity to interact with most of the surfers all at the same place. The Indian surf community is like a family and so when we told the surfers we were working on a mini documentary film, they were more than stoked to be part of it! We had our friends send us their own surf footage to include in the film! We really appreciate the support we received from the surf community to make this short documentary film!”

Tell us about journey since the time you first time discovered surfing and where do you think its heading now in the country ?

Tushar and Ishita (Shaka Surf Club): “When we started surfing, it was pretty much unheard of in the country. There was no online presence of surfing of any kind. Thanks to our friends at the surf ashram, it became a reality for us. Ever since we caught our first wave, we never looked back. Starting our surf school, The Shaka Surf Club, came as a natural progression for us to keep living the lifestyle we had come to love and cherish so much.It is very interesting to see how the surf community has grown over the past seven years! Surfing is getting a lot more media attention now, which we hope will encourage more people to start surfing and in turn develop a deeper connection with the ocean and their natural environment.Imagine a day when there are 2000 surfers living in Bombay. We’re sure that they would naturally strive to reduce water pollution and keep our beaches clean. So as we see it, India will truly benefit from the growth of a surf community.”

Any other fun projects planned by The Shaka Surf Club ?

Tushar and Ishita (Shaka Surf Club): “As of now, we are working on setting up a Shaka Surf Camp in association with White Collar Hippie at our surf school which should be up and running before the year ends! It will be the first of its kind in India. We’re really excited about it because now our students will be able to live right on the beach and completely immerse themselves in the surf experience. We’re also looking forward to the spring release of  “Beyond the surface”  a documentary surf film directed by legendary film maker Dave Homcy which we were fortunate enough to be a part of . As far as film projects go, we do have another one in the pipeline but still a long way from being completed. We will be sure to share it with Homegrown as soon as possible!”

You being a sailer and film maker, this documentary seemed like a natural extension of both your interests. From your POV , what was the best part of shooting this documentary and as a film maker what did you want to bring out through this ?

Krish Makhija (Mosambi Juice Productions): “Since I was a kid, the ocean has always been my first love. A year and a half ago, I got in touch with Tushar and Ishita and headed over to their awesome little shack and got on a board for the first time. It turned out to be absolutely great and immediately I knew that this is something I’d like to get further into. Thus we planned a small trip to Orissa for the Surf Festival and I knew that I definitely had to shoot something there but I couldn’t really figure out what. So then these lovely guys from Shaka came to me with this idea and I was like boom, this has to be shot. So we spent our time there, sitting with these surfers from across the country asking them 2 basic questions and hearing the most amazing stories in return.

Honestly, the best part about shooting this was the opportunity to meet and interact with this small community that is made up of such honest and genuine individuals. It was great to be a part of this small family where the passion comes first and everything else is ignored. Through the film, thats exactly what we’re trying to portray. Most of the guys you see in the film have started off as fishermen or have other such humble beginnings, our aim was to tell their stories in the purest form.”

What else can we expect from Mosambi Juice productions on the future ?

Krish Makhija: “Well, we’ve actually shot a small kitesurfing feature for our friends over at the Vaayu Waterman Village in Goa which we hope to release in the next couple of weeks. Apart from that we’re even discussing something to do with travel and offshore sailing, but thats still very nascent and a lots needs to be done for that. But right now, just trying to collaborate with some talented friends and create stuff that that we hope will atleast partially blow people’s minds.”