His debut film became an instant hit, earning him accolades. Still fresh on his success, he has just released his second film 'Ladies vs Ricky Behl' with the latest star couple in Bollywood. Director Maneesh Sharma is the new director from the Yash Raj brigade, who will always be known as the wedding planner of 'Band Baaja Baraat' who brought alive the onscreen chemistry between actor Ranvir Singh and actress Anuksha Sharma.
As another feather in his cap, the film was recently nominated in the Asia Pacific Awards 2011 for the 'Best Feature Film'. Though he couldn't make it to Australia for the screening, he was keen to talk to us about his film on a phone interview.
Weddings are an important part of our Indian culture, it's about the perfect day with lots of colour, festivities, fashionable dresses, mehndi, sangeet, dhol, dhamaka and of course finding new love. But Maneesh came up with a total new concept, contemporary and rare. To this, he comments, "People often ask me how I came up with the idea - I actually didn't have this story in my mind when I wanted to make a film. It's funny, I was talking to Adi ( Aditya Chopra) about another subject which he liked but he warned me it's going to be expensive. He wanted me to make a film that is easy to tap as I was a newcomer in directing, and not to feel rejected by the end. Then I thought I must figure out something and I generally wanted to tell this story from my side (new voice)."
"I went through my Delhi days to discover what I found charming. In Delhi there are lots of middle class people, not resourceful in finances but want to do a small investment business. While reading an article about how small entrepreneurs are making it big in India from small make shift offices, I struck upon an idea. Business makers who want to do something that excites them and make money".
"So there you go, I came up with a story about two kids based in Delhi, added a visual backdrop office and they had to be wedding planners. I researched and met a few of them in Delhi and saw how they function. It did excite me and I discussed my concept with Adi. A love story where the girl and boy meets and face an obstacle. My concept was a bit different - it wasn't a love story but about the process of falling in love" says Maneesh.
The chemistry between Ranvir and Anuksha made them the hottest couple in Bollywood. Did you choose both of them deliberately? "I selected Ranvir through a typical audition process, I wanted a newcomer. A known face brings a persona with it. The new boy funda was a very clear call. Thanks to Adi who agreed to it. The chemistry between the stars, I had no idea about it," says Maneesh.
You have signed the pair in your next film 'Ladies vs Ricky Behl' also. "Yes I have, after 'Band Baaja Baraat', I developed a comfort level with them and they look amazing together. Though this time, Ranvir has three more actresses working with him. Lately I have been busy promoting the film."
Besides a director, there has been a mention that you were a dancer also. "Yes I was a dancer, I mostly used to line dance and soon I actually ended up in production of a musical called 'Frame', I did a couple of musicals and it made me really happy. But direction was always my dream," asserts Maneesh.
Was it easy to fulfil that dream? "I don't have any filmy background, I belong to an upper middle class family in Delhi. I started off as an assistant director and did a Masters degree in film school. I was lucky enough to start with Yash Raj Films - I worked on 'Fanaa' and got the chance to work with Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Kajol and Madhuri. It worked out really well. And then Band Baaja Baraat happened - rest is history!"
(As published in Sydney's Indian newspaper Indian Down Under)