Working with Mani Ratnam was a dream come true: Manu Shaju

By Athira M R

3 min read
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Manu, a native of Palappilly in Chalakudy, Thrissur is currently in Chennai engaged with the works of Ponniyin Selvan.

Manu Shaju
​ Manu Shaju ​and the poster of 'Ponniyin Selvan'

Manu Shaju is making Malayalis all around the world proud as he embarks on the greatest journey of his editing career. This talented young man is now working with Mani Ratnam on his big-budget movie 'Ponniyin Selvan' starring Chiyaan Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthi, Trisha, Jayaram, Jayam Ravi, Aishwarya Lekshmi and many other frontline actors. Manu, a native of Palappilly in Chalakudy, Thrissur is currently in Chennai engaged with the works of Ponniyin Selvan. He opens up about his entry into the movie industry and his experience working with one of the greatest directors in the Indian Movie Industry, Mani Ratnam.

Rendezvous with the film industry

My entry into the cinema industry was quite coincidental. I had joined a college in Coimbatore to study mechanical engineering but dropped out after almost a year when I realised that it was not my path. I joined NEO Film School, Ernakulam in 2010. I used to spend a lot of time on computers back then and somehow I decided that editing would probably be the best choice for me. Besides, I have always been fascinated with movies and had a sort of affinity towards them from a very young age. I used to bunk classes to just go and watch movies with friends. I did not doubt for a minute when I quit engineering and started pursuing the Film Editing course at NEO. I worked at a studio for six months and stepped into the cinema industry right after that.

Manu Shaju
Manu Shaju with Mammootty

Interestingly, I worked as the assistant director in my first movie 'Rudra Simhasanam' starring Suresh Gopi. It was definitely a good start for me. It was a great experience working with many frontline movie artists. After that, I got the call for the next movie as the Online Editor for 'Puthiya Niyamam' starring Mammootty and Nayanthara. Puthiya Niyamam was like a big break for me and helped me gain a lot of exposure.

I had the opportunity to be part of several great movies like 'Udaharanam Sujatha', 'Mamangam', and 'Nayattu'. Mamangam was a humungous project for me and I believe that it paved the way for my landing in Ponniyin Selvan.

Manu Shaju
Manu Shaju with Manju Warrier on the set of Udaharanam Sujatha

Working with Mani Ratnam

Before that, I will share the story of my entry into PS-I. Sham Kaushal, the veteran stunt coordinator and action director was a part of Mamangam. We used to sit and talk on the set and I would show him the fight sequences after editing them. He was very impressed and asked me if I would join his next movie. I did not have to think twice to accept that invitation. I thought it was just another one of those statements that people tend to forget after it's said. But I did get that call and here I am, working with the legend himself, Mani Ratnam. It has been an amazing experience. Sham Kaushal is also a part of PS-I.

​ Manu Shaju
​ Manu Shaju

There are around eight cameras that are used to capture the fight sequences. After shooting, I edit the sequences to show him how the work turned out and he makes corrections if necessary. Another notable thing here is that he has never done a movie with an online editor before or attempted spot editing in his movies. When I showed him the edited work after the first day of the shoot, he said that it was the first time he had seen his movie edited so quickly. That compliment itself means a lot to me.

Future projects

I have done a movie called 'Son of Gangster' recently. All the post-production works have been completed and it is all set for release in November this year. There are discussions going on about future works and I am eagerly waiting to do more movies that will help me grow as an editor.

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