| Director Susant Mani. Telegraph picture |
Bhubaneswar Jan. 27: Director Susant Mani has carved a niche for himself in the Oriya film industry for his versatility in various aspects of film making. While his direction in recently released film Most Wanted has received rave response, Mani believes he is yet to go a long way.
Mani had lost his father at a tender age and was brought up by his mother along with his siblings. “I was very naughty and never had a particular ambition in life. I was a horrible student too,” he smiled. “I had never imagined I would get into the film industry,” he said.
After not doing very well in his Plus Two exams, Mani went off to Chandigarh to his relatives’ place and took time to think about his career. “Further studies was out of question for me. I was still undecided about what I wished to do while I came back to Bhubaneswar,” he reminisces. “Luckily, I came to know about a 40-day workshop by National School of Drama (NSD) that was to be conducted in Bhubaneswar,” said Mani.
It was in 1992 when he applied for the NSD workshop, that is known for selecting candidates with good academic record. “I had no idea about film making or theatre. Just that I was always fascinated with the creativity it involved,” said Mani. “At the selection rounds for the workshop that had 40 seats, more than 500 candidates had applied. After clearing a written round, I was interviewed by the acclaimed theatre personality Bhanu Bharti,” Mani added.
At the interview Bharti asked him if he could say a dialogue or recite a song. “I answered in the negative. Then he asked me why did I apply then. I answered honestly that I wished to learn about direction and stage designing,” Mani said. When the results came out, Mani, who had lost all hope after the interview, was left in awe to know he had topped.
“That was a life changing experience for me and I learnt a lot about film making,” he said. Soon, he found himself assisting in editing and direction on sets of Hollywood projects like Dreaming Lhasa. He made many documentaries that were showcased at Mumbai International Film Festivaland Japan International Film Festival. He edited a number of Oriya albums, films, television serials, short films and documentaries. He also won many awards, including the state award for editing.
In 2008, he turned towards film direction. “I had directed a couple of albums. But directing films is a much bigger and challenging job. My first film Aa Janhare Lekhiba Naa is the most memorable experience for me,” told Mani. Much appreciated films Abhimanyu and Aama Bhitare Kichhi Achhi Ki directed by him.
“I think our scripts should be made to suit the actors. But in our industry the script is first made and then we choose actors,” Mani said. “But I’m glad I do not lift scripts from other industries. I want to do something unique,” he said.