Advertising and Marketing Communications '98; International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries '99
Manu Dhingra, a 9/11 survivor who suffered second- and third-degree burns to 40 percent of his body after escaping from the World Trade Center, has produced a documentary about his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and how he discovered a passion for cooking that has aided his recovery and contributed to his sense of hope.
What did you set out to accomplish in making this film?
I felt my story might help someone who went through something traumatic. The idea that recovery doesn't take place overnight is a message I wanted to convey in this film. It's a long process and you just can't give up. You have to fight to get back your life.
What is the significance of the film’s title?
The title Asha means hope in Hindi. It's also the name of my mom. It means a lot for me to name it after her.
How has cooking played a role in your recovery?
Cooking brought me peace. I don't claim to be the best chef in the world, but just using my hands made me feel really good. I was self conscious about my skin grafts. But cooking forced me to look at my hands everyday and it helped me mentally get over what insecurities I was feeling.
What message do you hope people take away after watching Asha?
I hope that people can relate to the film. That life will not be easy and you'll face many challenges, some you can prepare for and others you can't. You just got to keep going and not give up hope.
What to you is significant about the 10th anniversary of 9/11?
I have thought of the ten year date as a date where I would evaluate where my life was. The more I worked on the project and was honest with where I was with my recovery, I realized I had a long way to go. For me, it's only the beginning. I hope I can continue to build towards the life that I envisioned for myself before the attacks.
What future projects are you planning?
I am excited about the future. I am a partner in GluttNY. It's a special events company. We do innovative pop ups around the city.
For more information about the film, please visit www.ashathefilm.com.