It's his time to fly solo

ASPIRING FILMMAKER

Born in the City of Pearls  (Hyderabad) to Maharashtrian parents, this young filmmaker has not only trotted the globe (with his film at various festivals) but has also won various awards.

Few know that Neeraj Ghwayan did his Electric Engineering and MBA before he quit his high-paying corporate job, “as a marketing manager at a media firm to get closer to cinema,” says Neeraj, better known as the director of award-winning film Shor – one of the five short films in Anurag Kashyap’s critically-acclaimed SHORTS. 

“There is a new kind of respect for independent cinema now. Earlier a director used to be happy if his film would release in theatre, but now the industry at large is encouraging independent films. It’s an interesting phase,” he says, introspecting over his decision to change profession when Anurag asked him to come on board. He learnt filmmaking on the sets of Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW).

As an assistant director for GoW and the ready-to-release Ugly, Neeraj realised that, “Money was a major issue for independent cinema.” He made Shor with the help of a short film contest funded by a website, but thinks that “post The Lunchbox, funding is no more a problem. The industry is looking up to independent cinema since it is the need of the hour.”

Believing in his ideals, he has already started working on his next project. In fact,
his script titled Fly Away Solo (Ud Jayega) has recently bagged the Sundance Institute, Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award 2014. “It is great to receive an award
for the script since it has opened a lot of prospects for finances and co-producers
are sho­­­w­ing interest in my project,” says Neeraj, excited at the pro­spects of directing his first full-length feature after making a mark in the shorts section.

“I haven’t sensed the transition from directing a short
to a feature yet,” he says matter-of-factly but soon adds, “Once it is set to release, it
will be a scary and an exciting experience.”

Inspired by one of the real stories that he came across while he “lived along the
ghats of Ganga while assisting Anurag on GoW,” his script
is based on “A story of four Varanasi residents trying
to escape the small city grind.

It talks about personal stories that will appeal to audiences across geographical boundaries because it is rooted to our culture. It has a very
uni­­­versal theme – how people learn to live after a cathartic change in life,” he elucidates on his award-winning script which is being eyed by producers like Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane.

“Talks are on and we still need to figure out the logistics,” he ensures to add as
he plans to shoot the film in Varanasi and Allahabad
and reveals that he is in talks with “Richa Chadda and
Rajkummar Rao to play the central characters.”

So, one could expect an equally brilliant work like that by Anurag Kashyap who Neeraj still refers to as his “mentor”.

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