MANISH Mundra, popular for producing soulful films such as Aankhon Dekhi, Masaan, Kadwi Hawa, Dhanak and Newton, says his first directorial venture, Siya remains a crucial film because it tells a story that needs to be heard by Indian viewers. Starring Pooja Pandey and Vineet Kumar Singh in key roles, Manish has brought forth the story of a rape survivor through Siya. Manish, who has also produced the film via his banner Drishyam Films, has now partnered with ZEE5 to bring it to a larger audience.
“A couple of years back, I had read articles about horrific rape cases across India. Each of the reported case shook me to the core. While every headline only talked about the rape case, my focus was on knowing more about the girl and what had happened to her and family. That’s when I decided to study more such gruesome cases and planned to direct a film where we stayed with the girl and talked more about her fight for justice. Even though writers were hired for the story, I decided to write it myself because the objective was to stay around the victim, see the victim as the fighter and feel her pain and predicament,” he says.
While Manish had the option to rope in actors with higher star value, he decided to go ahead with Pooja Pandey and Vineet Kumar Singh because he was convinced they’d do complete justice to their parts.
“Yes, I could have easily used actors with better star value for my first film, but I didn’t. Since the story revolved around a 17-year-old girl, I thought of getting an actor that could do justice to that part. Pooja is brilliant in the film as she speaks a lot through her eyes. Vineet was hired to play Mahendra because he is a superlative actor who can deliver. I’m happy with what Pooja and Vineet brought to the film,” he explains.
Vineet, who despite having exceptional talent, had to struggle for years for bag better films and ensure he didn’t go unnoticed. Manish too lauds the actor for his acting prowess and nuanced performance in Siya.
“Vineet and I have been close as he had worked for three projects produced by Drishyam Films. As an actor, Vineet is gifted, talented and can be relied upon. He puts in 100% to every role he essays. Since he belongs to Banaras, Vineet could understand Siya well and played his character Mahendra with a natural flair. I was impressed with a few nuances he managed to add to his character,” Manish says, adding, “I can’t comment on Vineet’s journey in the showbiz industry so far. Maybe he is very happy or maybe he isn’t.”
But nothing stops Manish for drawing parallels between Vineet and the veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah. “What I can see is and I say this on record that Vineet understands his craft really well. In him, I see a young Naseerudin Shah. I had watched Vineet in Tryst With Destiny wherein he had no dialogue for 45 minutes. But the way he expressed through his eyes was incredible. Vineet could do it, not many actors can. If you watch him in Mukkabaaz, he has fire in his eyes much like Naseeruddin Shah. I agree, Vineet hasn’t got his due. But Irrfan Khan got it late, too. Hence, I’m hopeful that Indian viewers will recognise Vineet’s talent.”
Manish also confirms that he will soon get busy with the shoot of his first international film. “Our first international film will be shot in Italy in October. It is an English film with European and American cast and crew.”
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