Hi Vivek, I am so glad that you have taken time out from your busy schedule to have this chat with me. First, I would like to know what keeps you busy these days. Your first film 'Prem' had released almost a couple a of years back, right?
Vivek: Ya, after 'Prem', that was released in May, 2007, I did a few more films but sadly only one more got released.
Which one was that?
It was called 'Bhalobashar Dibbi', and it was directed by Milan Bhowmik. It starred Roopa Ganguly, Mukesh Khanna in the cast too. The other films got stuck for several reasons. However, I am expecting the release of a slew of films in the months to come.
Wow! That's great news! You must be too busy with the shoots of late...
Vivek: Ya, you can say so. I am excited about the new films that I have been currently working on. Especially, 'Ronnie Aar Bonnie', 'Phire Pete Chaai'
Besides, shooting for the films, you have also been busy with shows...
Vivek: Yes, in winter - when it is supposed to be the peak season for us performers - we have to tour the rural districts. The small townships and the suburban centres are where the filmstars from Tollygunge are really adored.
The stage shows must be really hectic, aren't they?
Vivek: Yes, the travelling can be termed hectic, performing in these live shows isn't such a big problem though.
Is your eldest sister, Priyanka, who is a major draw for the audience in Bengal, also a part of the same touring troupe?
Vivek: Right. There's the Priyanka-Jeet duo, one of the bet loved pairs post-'Saathi', and I am paired with Shreya, who was my co-star in my debut film.
Okay, let me ask you something that is uppermost in my mind... what do you think of the so-called resurgence of Bangla cinema? Many of the Bangla films have had great success in the recent few years, do you feel buoyant?
Vivek: The entire scenario, thankfully, has been changing for the better. In fact, I consider 'Saathi' to be a major turnaround for Bangla commercial cinema. The general look of the films has improved by several notches. The scale of the films, their mounting and the production values are high. The films in spite of catering to the tastes of the regional audience are being given a polish and an edge that had been non-existent a few years back.
The makers, and even the stars, seem more confident when it comes to the style quotient booming up; what do you say?
Vivek: The song sequences of quite a few Bangla films are being shot overseas nowadays, be it in Singapore, Malayasia or other global scenic locales. So, I would agree that the things definitely look promising.
And what about the schism between the mainstream films and the so-called parallel or alternative cinema?
Vivek: See, I have till now been associated with only the mainstream or commercial films that has its own viewership. Largely, these films are in great demand in places like Midnapore, Birbhum and Bankura. Not that the mainstream films are viewed in the cities, they often get a bumper response in the single-screen theaters in and around Kolkata.
I am sure you are aware of the recent mainstream cult hits like 'Chirodini Tumi Je Aamar' and 'Mon Maane Na' which have opened in-roads for new makers, as well as launched several fresh faces....
Vivek: Very much so... the songs, the story-telling - even though many are remakes of cult-hits from the South- and the marketing have all been contributing factors.
After Mithun, Prosenjit & Jeet having been the crowd-pullers for a really long time, there are quite a few new heroes in Tollygunge who have been doing well, like Hiran, Dev, Soham, Rahul and even you...
Vivek: Well, I am counting a lot on the upcoming ventures of mine, Surajit Biswas's 'Tumi Jodi Aamar Hote', Tapan Banerjee's 'Rajdrohi', Mrityunjay Roy's 'Aamar Antare Tumi' are all films that are expected to augur well. Let's see if I'm lucky enough in becoming the people's favorite... a long way to go.
Luck plays a major role too in becoming successful in this tinsel world, no?
Vivek: It does, and I very much believe in luck. Film-making involves a lot of risk-taking, and the people working in films are naturally great-believers in the luck-factor!
On a different note, don't you rue the fact that still a large section of the city folks snub the Bangla mainstream films as being crass and downmarket? They do not even get released in the city's multiplexes!
Vivek: Look, you have to understand the ground reality.... the multiplexes in Kolkata, where the average price of a ticket is 150 bucks, is not where the average movie-goer, who's interested in Bangla films, goes to watch our films! The market for our films lying elsewhere, the release of our films in the city multiplexes is not yet feasible. It is all a question of realistc demands.
Finally, let me say that I love the fact that you are so amiable and down-to-earth, in spite of having had a grooming in the US.. you are the youngest in the family, right? You do seem very confident and poised..
Vivek: Thank you... I was born here in Kolkata, I am the youngest - my sisters Priyanka and Apsara, both having had their share of limelight. We had shifted to the US during my childhood. I have also been to Singapore and have stayed in Mumbai for a while too. I consider myself to be a thoroughbred Kolkatan and it is here that I have been working. So, there!
The chat does come to a close..... but let me convey my earnest good wishes to you, Vivek. I hope you make a big name for yourself and make all of us proud too.
[Pics courtesy: The Telegraph; seen from top:Vivek with Ferdous & Rituparna Sengupta, and Vivek with co-star Shreya]