Bringing a fresh perspective and a kaleidoscope of heartwarming stories to the silver screen, Gauri Shinde is known for directing blockbuster hits like English Vinglish and Dear Zindagi. While studying filmmaking in New York, Shinde made a short-film called Oh Man! embedded with several important themes for morals and values to feminism and was also screened at the Berlin International Film Festival. This was just the start of Shinde’s filmmaking journey as she went to direct many thought-provoking stories whether through the silver screen, ad films or short films. An exceptionally talented storyteller and recipient of Filmfare for the Best Debut Director, she explores ideas that seem innocuous yet are so profound and life-altering that any audience would be enamoured. Here we bring you the story of this incredible cinematic storyteller, her inspiration and muses and she found her forte in filmmaking!
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Early Life and Education
Gauri Shinde was born in a Maharashtrian family and brought up in Pune, Maharashtra. She studied at the St Joseph’s High School at Pune and grew up watching Marathi theatre, Hindi movies and television. Growing up, Shinde was a rebellious kid, an explorer and constantly trying out unconventional things. Her parents were extremely supportive and she decided to pursue mass communication at the prestigious Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communications. Shinde moved out and left for Mumbai to pursue film-making after graduation and got an internship with the documentary director Siddharth Kay. Shinde worked in the entertainment industry as a copywriter and film executive before taking a sabbatical from work to study film-making in New York!
An Innovate Ad Director
In New York, Gauri Shinde decided to give film-making a try. As a part of her filmmaking course, she made a short film titled Oh Man which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. Bustling with new energy and confidence with her first directorial success, Shinde moved back to India and entered the ad-film making industry. She worked with some of the best advertising firms like IBW, Bates Clarion, and Mullen Lowe Lintas. While working with Mullen Lowe Lintas, Shinde met her now-husband, R Balki and the two got married in 2007.
During her career as an ad director, Shinde worked and directed numerous ad films and short films. One of her most prominent ad films, ‘Y Not?‘ was released in 2004 and dealt with the perception of the birth of a girl in India. The film was a success and was featured at international festivals like the Stuttgart Film Festival, the River To River Florence Film Festival and the Femme Fatale Women’s Film Festival. In recent years, Shinde came out with brilliant and thought-provoking short films like ShareTheLoad with Ariel India and It’s Between You campaign for WhatsApp India.
Finding her Passion in Film Direction!
Shinde’s career skyrocketed with her directorial debut English Vinglish featuring Sridevi as the main lead; the premise of the film was innocuous: a mother learning the English language to fit in with her own family yet it touched so many hearts because of the depth of the issue and its relatability across India. This debut film won Shinde several awards namely the Filmfare and Star Guilds Award. The film was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 and it was India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Academy Awards. With her first movie a huge hit, Shinde began working on her next masterpiece, Dear Zindagi.
Shinde’s second feature film, Dear Zindagi was another major success; it starred Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan. The movie focused essentially on destigmatising therapy and the importance of mental health. Though the movie didn’t win any awards; it was commercially successful, got critical appreciation and is filled with many amazing life lessons from ‘Jug’ that you would always remember!
Gauri Shinde in several interviews has said that she makes movies that resonate with her and affect her emotionally. For instance, her debut film was an ode to her mother who was not fluent in English and the movie was her way of appreciating overlooked mothers across the globe. She takes inspiration from her travels, interactions, books and explores new ideas before writing a script. She is extremely selective about her film choices and focuses on telling unique stories that are authentic and not yet told. For now, she is all done with the script of her new feature film which we hope comes out soon.
Awards and Achievements
- Gauri Shinde’s first short film titled Oh Man was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2001.
- She has directed over 100 ad films as an Ad Director with advertising firms including the famous LoveRemains short film for Valentine’s day with Tanishq.
- Another short film by the talented director titled Y Not? was featured at international film festivals like Stuttgart Film Festival, the River To River Florence Film Festival and the Femme Fatale Women’s Film Festival.
- Winner of the Best Debut Director at Filmfare, Zee Cine, IIFA and Toifa Awards.
- Winner of the Laadli National Media Award for Gender Sensitivity
- Shinde’s first film was India’s official entry for Oscar’s best foreign-language film category.
- Gauri Shinde featured on the list of 25 Indians To Watch by Financial Times 2012 and on Bollywood’s 5 Best Directors of 2012 by Rediff.
Gauri Shinde is the personification of creative and thought-provoking cinematic storytelling. Her inclination towards storytelling and the art of filmmaking seems effortless and almost instinctual to her very being. The world can’t wait to see what the dynamic director will put out next. To know about more such inspirational women, follow Leverage Edu’s campaign Her Vision which is dedicated to unravelling the stories of awe-inspiring bosswomen across the world.