I liked Ram Kamal’s cheekiness and his lack of awe: Pritish Nandy

I still remember when my colleague Reena Thapar Kapoor joined a youth magazine Yuva and Entertainment Editor, and she met Pritish Nandy for an interview, way back in 2008 Autumn. Reena was my colleague in Stardust and Mumbai Mirror. We had our share of rifts and rafts, like any colleagues would. But time being the best healer, she moved on her own path, and so did I.

It’s been almost a decade, since she had published this interview in her magazine. Since I have lost (misplaced) the original copy of the magazine and suddenly stumped on this interview in my inbox (yes, I am cleaning them all), I thought of sharing this interview with my readers. Not that often you get to hear Pritish Nandy talking so critically about people with whom he has worked in the past. And it’s strange that whatever Pritish Nandy had mentioned in the article is so relevant even this day.

Whenever I am being interviewed, I am mostly I am asked about my journalistic career. A certain section of media either choose to ignore or just duck my five precious years which I had invested in a corporate production house. When Reena was planning to do a story on young enterprising leaders in Bollywood, I didn’t know why she chose me as one of the candidates along with various other names like Reshma Shetty, Rashmi Sharma, Siddharth Roy Kapoor and Tanuj Garg. All of them were heading various production houses as Creative Head or Vice President.

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Ram Kamal (standing behind Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan) during the launch of Pritish Nandy’s book

My journey with Pritish Nandy Communication started on a strange note (read the interview below to know it from the man itself) and it ended on a sweet note. My last assignment was to sign Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan for Saket Chaudhury’s Shaadi Ke Side Effects. Though I have worked in almost 12 films, unfortunately I could only see the release of six.

I used to closely work with Rangita Nandy (Creative Head) of PNC. While most of my friends had warned me to join PNC because of their notorious background, I chose to work with them. And as Shekhar Kapur had once told me, “You need to live your own life to tell your own story. Borrowed stories are often misguiding.” And my story with PNC was probably one of the most memorable ones. Till date both Rangita and Pritish are friends. And literally just a phone call away.

I am sharing of the rare interview of Pritish Nandy to Reena Thapar Kapoor for her magazine Yuva. The magazine has gone off shelves, like almost all other magazines in India. Neither they have any online portal. I wanted this to be a part of my journey, and thus chose Bollywood Journalist blog to republish the interview for record.

Thank you Reena and Mr Nandy.

 

Excerpt from Yuva Magazine Interview: (2008)

Ram Kamal Mukherjee becomes the first Film Journalist from Bollywood to join the bandwagon of corporate world as the Vice President of Pritish Nandy Communications. Being my colleague for almost 5 years in Stardust and Mumbai Mirror, I have seen him from close proximity as an individual. In fact, he didn’t want to leave his cushioned job at Stardust, and it took me a lot of coaxing to get him out of that comfort zone. I have seen his passion for cinema, and when he decided to move out from Times Group, though he was ruling the roost with his breaking stories and informative articles on Bollywood, I knew that he is moving on to take more challenging role. I have seen Ram Kamal growing from a correspondent to a biographer in Magna Publishing, and then from a senior correspondent to Assistant Editor in Mumbai Mirror. I wanted to capture his journey in a capsule for youth to get inspired. Instead of interviewing him, I decided to approach the “man”. Pritish Nandy – A tough guy with tougher words indeed. After chasing him for almost three weeks, he finally decided to pen down his thoughts. Read the interview below:

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Ram with Pritish Nandy

Reena: How you managed to spot Ram Kamal amongst various journalists you have met in recent past? And why did you choose him as Vice President of your company, while most film journalists preferred to either be a script writer or a filmmaker? Is he the first journalist who took interest in production and not direction?

Pritish Nandy: I first met him when he was doing a story on PNC and Rituporno Ghosh (he was making Rahagir with Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan) and came in with a photographer from Mumbai Mirror to take pictures of us together on Marine Drive. When the story appeared, he had knocked me off the picture and did not carry my quotes. I liked his cheekiness, his lack of awe. It was the sign of a good journalist who knew exactly what he wanted. Few people would have had the courage to do to me what he did and I remembered him for what. So it was easy to take him on at PNC when he showed interest in production and media interface. Here was a person I knew I could work with without him crawling all over the place to please me. I like people who are independent minded, cheeky, not in awe of me.

Reena: Considering the fact that you have been one of the most dynamic journalist, editor and columnist, what do you think about the future of today’s film journalism?

Pritish Nandy: Much of it is boring and sycophantic. But some of it is good. It will get better as journalists stop being in awe of stars and producers and write with greater courage and independence. That is happening more and more. Blogging has contributed to more independent journalism. The media must also stop packaging promotions as editorial.

Reena: Why did you sign Ram Kamal Mukherjee and not any other journalist with much more experience in the field of media?

Pritish Nandy: I don’t respect experience, education and age. I respect talent. I always recruit on the basis of talent. The rest is bullshit.

Reena: Do you think that hiring a journalist would help PNC in terms of media positioning?

Pritish Nandy: A journalist can contribute to our media interface because only a journalist knows exactly what the media wants and expects of us. I can’t put a suit into this job and expect him to learn this. A journalist has it in his/her DNA. It also helps when a journalist talks to another journalist. They understand each other’s language and expectations.

Reena: Ram Kamal worked with Times of India for three years as Assistant Editor with Mumbai Mirror; do you think that because you are an ex-employee of Times of India, you hired him and not anyone from other media?

Pritish Nandy: Not really. But yes, I think someone who has worked for The Times Of India usually has a mature understanding of media because Times is a total media house and most journalists there have a holistic understanding of media objectives and expectations. Makes life easier for us who are constantly interacting with the media on a daily basis in terms of both news and promotions.

Reena: It seems that he is the official spokesperson for PNC now. What made you decide upon making him the spokesperson?

Pritish Nandy: The same reasons I have iterated above. He is a bridge between PNC and the media. He understands the media as well as the company. Both sides feel comfortable dealing with him.

Reena: Do you think that journalists of today’s generation have flair in understanding the production hassles or they just want to work on creative department?

Pritish Nandy: They understand the context. The job they learn through experience. You cannot understand production unless you go through trial by fire. It’s the toughest job in the business, and in a sense the most thankless.

Reena: What kind of interaction you have with Ram Kamal considering that he comes from today’s generation? What are the difference that you notice in your time and his time?

Pritish Nandy: Our interaction is easy because there is no age difference here. He is of my gen when he talks to me. I am of his gen when I talk to him. Creativity is timeless. Generations easily crossover. That’s why you see the same person sitting and watching Ramayana on one channel and Sex and the City on the other without batting an eyelid. We in this business relate to ideas, not generations or age groups. And most great ideas are timeless. Fellini is timeless. So is Satyajit Ray. So is Desperate Housewives.

Ram Kamal with Rangita Pritish Nandy (not facing camera)

Ram Kamal with Rangita Pritish Nandy (not facing camera)

Reena: Also wanted to know that you have created so many directors but you have never directed one. Why?

Pritish Nandy: I will. One day. I’ve yet not hung my shoes.


Note: Kindly find the Internet Movie Database aka IMDb link on the list movies Ram Kamal Mukherjee has work on during his tenure in PNC. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8337396/

 

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