Directors may be plenty, but having Manikanth Gelli bring us films that the whole family can watch together is a huge plus to the Telugu Film Industry. Every film genre has entertainment value, but it is with family entertainers that forever memories are made. The wholesome movies bring together families and start conversations without effort. Growing up on a diet of such movies, Manikath might be the best person to give the audience the much wanted dose of simple, feel-good entertainment. This is his primary goal, promising to make the audience fall in love with movies just as he did. He comes across as a down to earth person with immense dedication towards the people in his life. Let us know more about this director along with his biggest inspirations.
An infinite bond
Manikanth Gelli has a deep bonding with his family, all of whom are movie buffs. Just as their closeness grew through the years, their bonding with films also grew. He was born on 29th March, 1992 in Kakinada. His mother Adilakshmi Gelli is a single parent.
As his mother worked as a School Teacher, Manikanth was very keen and focused towards his studies. She made sure he was never distracted when it comes to education.
He has one younger brother, Kiran Gelli, with whom he is very thick. In his words, his brother happens to be a movie freak, who watches all the Friday releases by the end of the week. His mom is on a similar page, as she loves watching films.
Manikanth Gelli expresses that despite their financial troubles, movies are the only thing that made them happy. “We would laugh our hearts out every time we watch a beautiful film,” he says. The brothers have an unwritten tradition. They would together binge watch films like ‘Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu’ and ‘Lakshyam’ the moment they found some free time. During their childhood one movie per month was a must.
All of the director’s schooling as well as Intermediate was completed in Kakinada itself. He reveals that his mom always wanted to see him as an IITian. However, he settled for NIT and finished his Bachelors from NIT Warangal. He was a studious kid until the end of his Engineering and passed out in the year 2013.
He might have faced many teachers during his education, but he states that his mom is his first teacher. She had pushed his boundaries. Manikanth feels two women made his life beautiful. One is his mom and the other is his wife. “ I’m what I am because of her and my wife,” he says.
A love that changed everything
Manikanth Gelli has one love in his life that he will cherish. That love is for Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao (NTR). He remembers the exact moment this came about. It was March 28th 2002, a day before his birthday. He watched the film ‘Aadi’ with his mother and that was the moment he fell in love with NTR. “He changed my life,” he expresses. After that day, Manikanth never missed a first day first show of his film.
“Tarak Anna is one reason for my love towards films.”
For Manikanth Gelli, his wife is a solid support. They have been together since 2014 and got married in 2018. She married him when he was still out of work.
“She has been my strength and support,” he says. He further continues that it is only because of her that he could achieve his dream of becoming a Film Director. She, along with his best friend Aditya Undru, has always been there at every important event of his life.
Learning never stops
Watching and learning from films and YouTube has been what Manikanth calls his Guru. He had watched the films ‘Ninne Pelladatha’ and ‘Chandamama’ a “Zillion times.” He has an immense love for family movies.
He adds that for any Industry, the most important skill is constant learning. To keep rising in the career towards success, he feels one should just keep learning and updating themselves.
Filmmaking in every breath
Manikanth Gelli has filmmaking in his every breath. Even his hobbies include making short films, which he has been doing since his Engineering days. During this time, he made 6 short films, one music video and one Ad film. When he isn’t making films, his favourite hobby is reading books.
Other than this, he listens to current affairs and gists of many other books from his wife Madhu and friend Aditya.
Speaking about working in the industry, Manikanth says that it is definitely not a piece of cake. “But that’s how life is.You won’t get anything for free, you have to struggle for it! But once you’ve reached there that entire struggle becomes memories,” he philosophises.
Role models through life
For Manikath Gelli, it is not necessary to look further than his own life for role models. They include his mom, his wife Madhuri Gahi and his friend Aditya Undru.
His mom influenced him so much that he would have been a teacher if not a director. He also looks up to RX100 film director Ajay Bhupathi. He expresses, “I’ve learnt a lot from each and every one of them. They have played a crucial role in each and every important part of my life.”
Interestingly, it was Ajay Bhupathi who gave him the courage and filled him with confidence to work on his film. It was after working for RX100 film as an Associate Director that Manikanth started working on his own film.
Story behind his first film
Manikanth had a combination of effort and luck to bring out his first film as a director. It came about because of his friend Prashanth Koppineedi. He worked as an Associate Cameraman for Rangasthalam, in which Simha worked as an Assistant Director.
They have become friends during the course of Rangasthalam. It was Prashanth who pitched the synopsis of Manikanth’s film to Simha.
A dream come true
Manikanth Gelli had always dreamt of this position and place in life and worked towards it. “It’s my passion towards filmmaking and my wife’s constant support that made me quit my job and pursue a career in film making,” he shared.
According to him, every film he ever worked on and every short film he ever made has been a learning experience and he can not quantify or qualify it.
To keep rising in the career towards success, he feels one should just keep learning and updating themselves.
As he has just begun his foray into the Telugu Film Industry, he is yet to see highs and lows. But, he is here to stay, as movies are his life. “Watching them and making them, that’s the two things I’m good at,” he expresses.
Manikanth Gelli is currently working on the script of his second film. He plans to update the details soon.