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“I hope to direct a feature film in the near future” – Sai Deodhar Anand

She was one of the most popular actresses on television but a couple of years back, Sai Deodhar Anand got bored with the monotony on television and decided to streamline her energies towards being a producer. After producing content for television and web, she has now turned director with a short film titled ‘D.A.T.E’. She will also be making her debut in Marathi films with ‘Mogra Phulala’ which has been directed by filmmaker mother Shrabani Deodhar. In this interview, she talks about directing ‘D.A.T.E’, producing ‘The Sholay Girl’, making her Marathi film debut, producing content for different mediums and more.

Your father is a filmmaker. Did she inspire you to get behind the camera?

Yes, she has definitely been one of my biggest inspirations. I was born in a film family and I have no qualms in admitting that I am a filmy kid. While my dad was a director of photography and mother was a filmmaker. Cinema intrigued me since childhood. I always wanted to be a part of the industry. I had applied for the editing course in FTII. I had cleared my entrance exam and the interview was remaining. That is when I got offered ‘Saara Akaash’. My acting career took off and filmmaking took a backseat.

‘D.A.T.E’ is your first attempt at direction. When did the thought of directing a short film come to you?

I am very proud of the work I have done on television and all the love and respect I have received from it. Having said that, after a point acting in TV became very monotonous. I did a show called ‘Udaan’ which started on a very promising note but after a point, like every other TV show, it was stretched endlessly and the ploy went haywire. I felt like I was doing a 9-5 job. This is when I wrote the script of ‘D.A.T.E’ and made the film. I had no idea what would happen to it. During the course of making the film, I realised there was a huge market for short films worldwide. The film has won seventy-four awards till now and is streaming on Zee5. I feel very grateful about all the love it has received.   

You have also produced ‘The Sholay Girl’ for Zee5. Was it always planned as a digital film?

Yes, it was always planned as a digital film. Actually, ‘D.A.T.E’ was made much before ‘The Sholay Girl’. I showed my short film to Zee5 and they loved it. After that, we decided to collaborate on ‘The Sholay Girl’. We were very clear about the fact that we were making something for the digital space. The canvas and the content of the film was made it more suitable for a digital release than a theatrical one. A large number of people have watched it on the web and we probably would not have had that kind of viewership if we had released it in theatres. It was a period film and hence, the production design process was difficult to get through. Sourcing out things was difficult but exciting at the same time.  Despite all the challenges, we managed to shoot the film in just sixteen days.

I think ‘Mujhse Kuchh Kehti….Yeh Khamoshiyaan’ was the first show you had produced.

Yes but it was a co-production. Our company also had a different name then. Now, we are working more actively towards establishing our production house.

Your husband, actor Shakti Anand is also a partner in the company. What has been his contribution?

Shakti oversees the financial aspect of the company. He is more of an actor at heart and I am more of a technician.

What is the content you want to produce?

We want to produce content for every medium. Every medium has its own grammar and target audience. We want to cater to every segment of the audience as producers.

You are making your debut in Marathi films with ‘Mogra Phulala’. You are a Maharashtrian. Why did it take you so long to get into Marathi films?

Honestly, this is a question that I have no answer to. My journey started with Hindi television. Marathi films were in a very different space back then. I think it is a great time to be a part of Marathi cinema now. I would love to produce Marathi films and shows as well.

Do you plan to direct a film in the future?

Yes, I hope to direct a feature film in the near future. I feel now an actor is just not limited to acting. I am looking at being a producer, director and actor at the same time. I have read a few scripts and liked a couple of them. Right now, my focus is on ‘Mogra Phulala’. Once the film releases, I will sit and finalise a script which I would like to direct.

What does Salman Khan feel about his co-actor in Inshallah?

“An actor should not get disheartened by rejections” – Ananditaa