Debut Filmmaker, Devdatta Manjrekar shares his thoughts, passions and purpose behind creating his first short-film, Vikat, starring actor Veena Jamkar.

From being the Art Director at an Agency to now directing his own short-film, Devdatta Manjrekar has turned his ever-evolving passion towards creating Cinema into a reality. Devdatta’s first-ever short film as a Filmmkar, Vikat starring actor, Veena Jamkar premiered on YouTube on 23rd August, 2020. The film has already crossed over 1,45,000 views and is garnering a lot of positive response from the viewers. The 6 minutes and 30 seconds long film holds your attention right from the first frame as a mother sings Ganesh Aarti to her child in a dim-lit house as we hear chants and celebratory sounds of people celebrating Ganesh Chaurthi slowly seep in. The way the scene progresses is intriguing and quite unexpected and very well-captured by the Director.

The short-film, directed by Devdatta, in its own unique way talks about nature conversation and urges people to think about their actions while still respecting their faith. The shots are framed well and this piece of content will raise your eyebrows and then make you think about being more mindful of your actions towards nature.

We spoke to the talented Director and here’s all Devdatta had to share:

What made you create this short film and bring this idea to life?
“Being an artist, a commercial art student and a nature lover I was also into filmmaking. I am into art and designing but filmmaking is something that I like. And it is not that if you like filmmaking and films you have to be a director, there are people who just enjoy watching films as well. But then there is something that made me feel that we should bring a change in society. And I want to do that through my strength and my strength is filmmaking. Every Ganesh Chathurthi festival I used to think about why there is a need to play random songs and be loud about it, go dirty your lakes and rivers, I mean there is no need for it. Even though its a festival I am sure there is another way to celebrate it. So, there was this thing in me, “yeh karna hai, kuch alag karna hai” to show people that you guys are doing it wrong and it is not the correct way to do it. Another thing is, if you watch the movie you’ll know there is a kid in it. The only reason was it’s enough educating adults as they don’t listen to what people have to say around. They are the ones who act childish. It’s high time to train your kids in the right way so that in a few years there is a change in society. That’s the reason I decided to make this film.”

Have people reacted to the gripping moment where the mother lowers her child into the water?
“Yes, most of the comments on YouTube and also when people called or messaged me they did talk about that particular part. They asked, “how can a mother do that to her child?” So, if you see the film starts very peacefully and then it cuts to a very flashy and loud logo and that’s exactly how I am affected by the stupidity around. For me, it was not possible to shoot people so I decided to design that part accordingly. So yaa, that is the part that people have been talking about. Some also said that it was so disturbing “ki mene apna phone dur kar diya” and I was like exactly what happens to us. And yes, the baby drowning was the highlight of the film. I had the option to not show it, even my crew was against it but I wanted it or else how will you show that? There was no other way. It’s like people and the government need some tragedy to happen to wake up and do something about it. Tab tak unko kuch dikhta nhi hai, and it is very sad that a human life defines their action. To make that clear I thought that no, I should add that scene in the film and people need to be awakened.”

Have there been any negative or harsh reactions towards that?
“Actually very few have reacted negatively. There was this one guy who said, “Movie acha hai, par bache ko dubana nhi chahiye tha, usse phele hi cut kar leta”. So, I have received such comments but I don’t feel bad about it because I was not really doing it. There are many people people who give water birth as well. In fact, I also took precautions for the baby. We used safe luke warm water for the scene. The baby herself was so happy after that scene, she didn’t even cry.”

When did you shoot the film, and how difficult was it?
“The film was shot recently on 9th August when things had slowed down. We followed all safety precautions and it was shot in a very small village on the Vajreshwari road where not a single case of COVID is reported. That village consists of 6 brothers who stay in their respective bungalows. So, the environment was very homely and everybody helped us make the film.”

Technically how easy or difficult was it to shoot in that limited space?
“I thought it would be difficult, but it went really smoothly even with the kid. I was under the impression that I could control everything but controlling a kid would be difficult. You can’t tell them to be silent or cry. I think she was the one who supported me a lot. I just went according to her mood, when she was crying I’d take that shot or when she was quiet I’d take the rest. I was really not expecting it to go this smooth.”

How important do you think OTT platforms and streaming websites are for artists and filmmakers who come from outside the industry?
“I think with platforms like YouTube it is not difficult at all because it is your channel you can do all that you want. As a filmmaker or storyteller, you don’t have to be connected to any family or industry. Any media can be learned in two ways, formal and informal. You meet people and keep learning. You don’t have to be from a big family or an industry. You can just shoot videos and put them on YouTube. But if you want to get through these OTT platforms, for them it is mostly numbers and art comes second. Kya product hai, aur ussme kon hai, aur vo kitna paisa kamayega all these things matter. So, that becomes a commercial part of it. So, to enter these platforms it is difficult, but when it comes to YouTube it is very easy. You just have to stand out with good content.”

How was it working with actor, Veena Jamkar?
“She was really sweet. She comes from the Marathi industry, she does feature films and is quite big in the industry. For me, as a debut Director, I thought there might be tantrums here and there, but she was really sweet. She just surrendered herself to the role and told her that it was new for me. I know the script and I know what I wanted. I just gave her the character sketch that this is her past and this is how she is affected now so just play within it. And she just took it to the next level.”

Are you working on another project right now?
“There is nothing specific as of now, but I am sure I’ll keep making movies. Because this is where I breathe. This is my world and maybe I am good with people that I can just get things done from them. It is a fun experience. Also because it consists of all of the things cameras, locations, people, music, sound, editing and I like doing a lot of things which makes me a complete Director who is conscious of each and everything.”

Are there any insights or tips that you would like to share with aspiring filmmakers?
“Just one thing, treat your script as the hero and everything falls in place. If you have a good script I have realized, people just jump in and they support you. That’s how you can make a good film. Just work on your script because that is what people see onscreen. It doesn’t matter who the actor is, it can be an established actor or your neighbour, it is the script that matters.”

You can watch the Directorial debut of Devdutta Manjrekar here:


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