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Even after two National Awards, Manish Saini to remain rooted in Gujarat

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Even after two National Awards, Manish Saini to remain rooted in Gujarat

Manish Saini
Manish Saini

Ahmedabad, Aug 27 (IANS) Manish Saini is one of the few writer-directors in the world of Gujarati cinema, to have clinched not one but two National Awards for his creative endeavours.

His first triumph stemmed from the movie “Dhh” in 2017  (starring Naseeruddin Shah) and he later secured the coveted Golden Lotus for his film “Gandhi & Co.” at the 69th National Film Awards, 2023. However, what truly sets him apart is his thematic niche — a storyteller whose cinematic tales orbit around the world of children.

In a candid conversation, Saini unveiled his artistic approach, confessing, “My childhood is a vivid part of me; it lives on within me. I find it remarkably effortless to write about children and even guide them through the directorial process. While romantic dramas and the complexities of adulthood might intrigue others, I find myself drawn to the unfiltered perspectives of children. The purity and innocence with which they perceive the world is a constant fascination for me.”

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Amidst the backdrop of a burgeoning trend where Gujarati filmmakers often eye a Bollywood transition after garnering local recognition, Saini treads a different path.

He candidly shared, “The Bollywood landscape is bustling with competition, where a script often languishes for six months before even being considered. I remember once pitching a script to a Mumbai studio, only to be advised that sports-themed films were the current trend. I returned to Ahmedabad and began penning a sports-themed script. However, upon returning, I was told that sports films were not resonating well with audiences anymore!”

In the realm of cinematic craftsmanship, Saini recognizes Gujarat’s unique advantages. He expressed, “Gujarat offers a relatively smoother journey in filmmaking. Within six months, I can weave a film here. The ease of securing a producer and realizing the creative vision makes the journey all the more satisfying. As for Bollywood aspirations, I have no plans to tread that path.”

Hailing from Haryana, Manish Saini embarked on his creative journey in the cultural haven of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He enriched his artistic acumen at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, an institution renowned for fostering creative minds.

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Reflecting on his early days, Saini recounted, “After completing my studies at NID in 2009, my friend Aditya Gupta and I ventured into the realm of scriptwriting”

“Once we crafted our narrative, I approached multiple producers and financial advisers, hoping for a green light. Yet, as is often the case for emerging directors, I encountered rejections aplenty. It was then that I chose to mobilize funds from my circle of relatives and friends, birthing my directorial debut ‘Dhh’ in 2017.”

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, Saini’s creation “Gandhi & Co.” emerged, featuring seasoned actor Darshan Jariwala alongside Jayesh More, Druma Mehta, and young talents Reyaan Shah and Hiranya Zinzuwadia. The film’s script germinated during the lockdown and was brought to life towards the end of the initial wave of the pandemic.

Saini reminisced, “Like many others, I found myself confined to a room during the lockdown. Amidst cooking meals and navigating the unfamiliar terrain, I wove the story of ‘Gandhi & Co.’ Shooting commenced as the first wave of the pandemic subsided.”

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On  Gandhi & Co.,  he said “When the topic of Gandhi is depicted on screen, the outcome often leans towards preachiness. I was determined to steer clear of that path. The essence of ‘Gandhi & Co.’ lies in its warmth, its humour, and the ability to leave smiles lingering even after the credits roll. Importantly, the film conveys its message without adopting a preachy stance.”

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