New Delhi, March 14: His debut film "Mumbai Cha Raja" narrated how two slum kids escape the grim realities of their lives, while his new movie "Chenu", chosen for the L'Atelier section at the Cannes International Film Festival, tells the tale of a boy, drawn into the Naxalite (Maoist) movement.
Manjeet Singh says he tries to cater to the common man through his lens.
"I want to make films for the common man and for the critics. My first film was about the underprivileged class, and how they find joy in small things," Singh, whose "Mumbai Cha Raja" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), told IANS.
His "Chenu" is one of 15 projects selected from across the globe for the L'Atelier section. It narrates the tale of a low-caste Dalit boy in rural north India and how he is drawn into the Naxal movement due to the feudal system.
Singh says he had a brush with "feudal mindset" when he was in college, and believes lot of people have been "turning a blind eye" to issues such as this, which plague the underprivileged class.
But he wants to bring those issues to the fore. He hopes through the showcase at L'Atelier, which can act as a platform for him to meet potential partners, investors or co-producers, he could increase the reach of the film.
Singh has budgeted his project at Rs.12 crore, and already has a Canadian and a Norwegian co-producers on board.
He hopes to get more people, including an Indian co-producer, involved in the film, which he admits is "not market-driven".
He wants to shoot it in Bihar.
"But people who have experienced shooting in Bihar, tell me it is a tough process. So if that is going to be the case, I will shoot in Maharashtra but, if given a chance, I'd love to shoot in Bihar," he said.
The filmmaker says "Chenu" was rejected "three to four times" for Indian film fests, and feels the selection committees here "are not able to gauge talent".
Nevertheless, he would be more than glad if his film manages a commercial release, because "it is very important that this film reaches the masses".
Singh, a qualified engineer, returned from the US to Mumbai to make films in 2006. He believes all film festivals want "bigger projects" with "known actors".
But he has been able to make space in international extravaganzas like TIFF, as well as at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.