Actor-producer Vivek Gomber said he was initially interested in Rohena Gera’s highly acclaimed Sir for his love story, but it was the director’s conviction that won him over.
“Who doesn’t love a good love story?” Gomber, whose producing credits include internationally recognized films like Court and The Disciple, asks rhetorically.
“It’s a love story and I can’t play things like that. So much of the story is in silence, in the repetition of a day. There is also a conversation about class differences and how to deal with domestic help. I had to trust Rohena for these things. I had the feeling she knew what she was talking about, ”he told PTI in an interview.
Gomber, who met director Chaitanya Tamhane at the age of 21 and ultimately supported Court and now The Disciple, enjoys working with socialmediagossips who have a vision and are organized.
“As an actor, I understand that it’s my job to be part of the whole puzzle. As a producer, I feel like you better not screw this up. Being a producer has really helped me as an actor, and the actor has helped me become a better producer. Now these two identities are intertwined. “
Gomber was born in Jaipur, Rajasthan, and left India for Singapore at a young age. But the memories of Amitabh Bachchan’s films in Raj Mandir Cinema, the city’s landmark, stayed with him.
He became part of the theater company at his school in Singapore and studied acting at Emerson College in Boston, USA.
After graduating, Gomber came to Mumbai in 2004 looking for a career and worked in the theater where he took roles in shows and films. He had to return to Singapore when his father fell ill. The actor finally returned in 2011, determined to stay there and make it through.
Gera reached out to Gomber in 2016 and after the audition he ended up playing Ashwin, a character the director described as someone “kind of lost from within.”
The presence of co-star Tillotama Shome also helped Gomber as he knew her as a friend. They often rehearsed while traveling from one point in Mumbai to another for the filming.
Gomber, 41, said he was overwhelmed by Gera’s determination to release the film in Indian cinemas. The film was originally scheduled to come out in March, but the pandemic resulted in a postponement.
“She never approached it like a little movie. For them, this is the big mainstream Bollywood movie. From day one she said she wanted to show the film to the Indian audience. “
The trip to Sir was “worth it” as it resulted in more work, he said.
“You have to take responsibility when a director like her gives you a chance. These are like high stakes things and you want to bring your A-game with you.
“The film came to me at a time when nobody really offered me a lot of work. I was grateful to be able to work that year because I remember after Court it became difficult for me to get an acting job because I looked very different in the film. “
As a producer, Gomber said he was worried about the cost of the South Mumbai apartment that became the setting of Gera’s story, which revolves around the delicate romance of a young widow Ratna (Shome) who is hired as a man’s housekeeper became Ashwin architect.
After traveling to film festivals around the globe, the film finally hit cinemas in India in November and has risen to number one in Netflix’s top 10 in India since its premiere on the Streamer last Saturday.
The actor, who also starred in Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy on Netflix in India, said Gera’s confidence in her project made him feel that “if you can take it, things will eventually work out.”
“As an actor you are told to do your job, forget it, you never know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve also spent so many years here that you need to protect yourself and have fewer expectations. But she spoiled me, ”he said.
It’s not that his journey in the film industry was easy – Gomber spent four years in court and four more years on The Disciple, a film that now has Oscar-winning Alfonso Cuaron as executive producer and became the first film to be made from India 20 years to be part of the main competition at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.
“It’s nice for the community that these films, which try to develop their own identity, survive. It’s a good indicator of the rest, those younger than us and getting through, or those older who may not have made their first movie. You may think, “I can take a chance, why not, let’s do this.”
The risk paid off again when The Disciple won the award for Best Screenplay in Venice as well as the prestigious FIPRESCI award given by international film critics. The film also won the Amplify Voices Award at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.
Gomber met Tamhane, now 33, for a piece. They eventually worked together as a producer and director on Court (2014), the National Award-winning legal drama.
“Chaitanya is so unique that I would love to work with him forever. This city, this business is tough. You can have friends for emotional support, but you also need friends for creative support.
“Both of the films we’ve worked on have political identities that resonate with us, although we may not agree on all points. We see the world in a certain way or we like to discuss it in a certain way. “
Gomber’s upcoming project is Bombay Begums on Netflix.