{ Page-Title / Story-Title }

Interview Hindi

Directing a feature film is my ultimate goal, says actor-turned-director Vineet Sharma

The artiste's second short film Gajra, starring Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni, was screened at Mumbai International Film Festival.

Suyog Zore

Vineet Sharma, who has acted in popular Hindi films such as Mission Kashmir (2000), Asoka (2001), Singham (2011) and Judwaa 2 (2017), as well as a few TV shows and web-series, donned the director's hat for the first time with his short film I'm 17.

His second directorial venture, the short film Gajra, starring Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni, was screened at the recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF). It had been showcased at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), the Rajasthan International Film Festival and the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival.

In a conversation with Cinestaan.com shortly before the latest edition of MIFF was held, the artiste opened up about the short, his acting career and his ultimate goal of helming feature films.

Gajra is going to be shown at the MIFF. How do you feel about this?

I'm very thankful to the MIFF juries and the Film Division for giving me an opportunity to showcase my film. Before this, it was selected in IFFI and there also it got a really good reception from the audience as well as the juries. So I'm really glad about all the praise my film is receiving. I'm also planning to send it to the National Film Awards.

You also wrote this short film. How did you come up with this idea? And when?

I used to live in Chembur 25-30 years ago. There was a chawl in front of our building. And there was a couple in one of the houses. I used to notice that the husband would always bring a gajra [a flower garland worn by women in South Asia] for his wife while returning from his office. And his wife would also wait for him patiently at the door when it was his time to return. It was their daily routine. His wife's smile after he offered her the gajra literally used to vaporize all his tension.

The gajra is a symbol of love and it's not about money at all. Most of the time, women don't care about how expensive your gift is, what they truly care about is your efforts. Such small efforts can eventually make a huge difference in your life. But sometimes we men don't understand this. My film talks about the importance of such small efforts.

What kind of preparations did you have to do for this short?

I didn't have any so-called star face in I'm 17, and hence I had to also act in it. Writing and directing in themselves are Herculean tasks and I also had to act, which made things even more difficult for me. Therefore, I made a conscious effort to cast known faces for my second short. And therefore I cast Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni in this film. Even though technically I'm 17  marked my directorial debut, I would say Gajra is my actual debut. The first film was just an experiment to understand how this whole process works.

How did you select Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni? Was it easy to convince them to be part of your short film?

Even at the writing stage, I was quite sure that I wanted Sachin sir in this role. I met him during the shoot of Judwa 2. So we built a good rapport from there. During the dubbing of a film, I narrated the basic concept to him and he liked it. After almost a year and a half, I approached him again but with a proper bounded script. He read it and called me within two days and immediately agreed to be a part of the film.

I knew Sonali from our theatre days. Because I had known both of them personally, I had direct access to them, which made things a lot easier for me. And after they came on board, things just worked out smoothly.

You have been acting in the Hindi film industry for over two decades, so how did you decide to become a director?

Directing was always my destination, so it didn't happen accidentally. It was a conscious effort. I have been involved in the filmmaking process since I began acting in films. Thankfully, I got opportunities to work with some of the great filmmakers of the industry so somewhere that helped me learn about the craft of filmmaking. I have also been a writer since my theatre days and have also written a few plays so writing was not new to me. So After working in the industry for more than two decades, I thought this was the right time to finally begin my journey to reach my final destination.

Now that you have directed two short films are you planning to helm a feature film?

Yes, definitely. In fact, directing a feature film is my ultimate goal. I even have a script ready for a feature film, but I know that nobody will be ready to put their hard money behind someone who has not directed anything before. So these two short films are like a showreel for these producers.

So what's happening with this feature?

Actually, I need a star face for this film, Unless I get one I won't begin the film. I'm narrating the script to a few producers and artistes, but nothing is concrete yet. Let's see what happens. I hope things work out soon.

What do you have to say about your acting journey so far?

I'm very satisfied with my acting journey. I was blessed to begin my journey with renowned filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir. There was no looking back after that. I never had to ask for work. Till now I have always got acting offers from filmmakers. My theatre background also helped me somewhat.

What are your future projects?

I'm working in Riteish Deshmukh's maiden directorial venture Ved. I have a major role in that film. I'm also in the Sidharth Malhotra-starrer Mission Majnu (2022). There are also two or three other Hindi projects, but can't reveal much about them now.

Related topics

Mumbai International Film Festival