When writer-director Chaitanya Tamhane and actor Vivek Gomber worked on a play together about 12 years ago, they had no qualms about it being the beginning of a rare yet rewarding artistic collaboration. Tamhane, then 21, wrote a play called Gray Elephant in Denmark and was in the process of finalizing her new cast. He had by then dropped out with his original cast and was looking for a new lead actor to play the role of a magician. The writer-director says, “I had acquired the reputation of this crazy and arrogant child in the block.” Gomber, then a 28-year-old actor, stepped out in search of a more lucrative acting assignment.
By the entry of the Tamas, they were all “enchanted” by Gomber. Nevertheless, many fights occurred during the rehearsal. “At that time, I used to be very dissatisfied with the things around me. Vivek looked at my angry point. He took it as a challenge and gave me what I wanted. Gomber did not exactly warm up to Tamhane, who was working during the play. But the actor loved working with someone who had a conviction and clung to it. “I will answer that (guilty) more than ambiguity and laziness.” I loved the lesson and was excited to perform as a magician and learn tricks, ”Gomber recalls.
The play was staged in 2009 and for the next few years, they were not in regular contact as Gomber moved to Singapore. After his return to India, it is his “intense desire to do a good job” and “to start a conversation” that he found again as an ally. Tamhane was exploring the idea of looking at the Indian legal system and Gomber came forward to help. The result was Court (2014), written and directed by Tamhane and produced by Gomber, who founded Zoo Entertainment Private Limited. Gomber also played the role of lawyer Vinay Vora in the film.
The court premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in 2014 and immediately brought Tamhane an international recognition. Six years later, Tamhane returned to the Venice Film Festival with her sompomore feature The Discipline, which premiered in its main competition section. Gomber has produced a disciple who follows the journey of a devoted classical singer as the mastery he strives for remains elusive. Oscar-winning Alphonso Quaron, who was a mentor to the Rolex Mentor and pageant as part of the Protege Arts initiative, is its executive producer. This week, The Discipline was released on Netflix, which is also court streaming.
“I was 23 when I started writing court. Vivek not only encouraged me to write my first feature film, but also put my money into its production. it was not easy. Both of us had no experience directing or producing the film, ”recalls Tamhane. Mutual trust and confidence in the project made up for their lack of experience. The writer-director says, “I have always said that if I am the mother of both these films, Vivek is the father.” Gomber says that these vary depending on the situation.
Both Court and Disciple have traveled to several major international film festivals. Tamane believes that it can be stressful at times. “On festivals, people betting in movies have gladiatorial vibes. Furthermore, there is an additional challenge when a film is rooted in a cultural context. There is no spoon-feeding or simplification about the functioning of our society, both on the court and the disciple, ”says the director.
Three major recent releases – Mira Nair-directed mini-series A Suitable Boy, Rohana Gera-directed feature Is Love Enough? Sir and the web-series Bombay Begum – Gomber have received high praise for their performance. “The kind of appreciation and recognition that Vivek is getting now is not a surprise to me. I tell Vivek that he is like an alcoholic and is getting better with age, “Tamhane says and says that he is” very protective and deserving of Vivek. In a mild vein, Tamhane says that he will not be able to afford Vivek’s fees. Pat gets a reply from Gumber: “I have to earn more as an actor so that we can make more films by Chaitanya.”
You cannot imagine a scenario when Gomber would not produce his films. “The process we follow is very dear to me. That process flows from the manufacturer. During the making of The Discipline, many people gave their own photographs and trophies to the production designer to study it. I wanted to give these people a gift hamper. Vivek would never ask for such a suggestion. He will ensure that everyone on the set enjoys a good meal. These films exist because of humanity. You take out a part, it’s not going to work. Says Gomber: “It would be an illusion for any of us to think that we did this on our own.”
Do they still have their own arguments? Tamhane says, “Even if we have differences of opinion, the one who believes strongly wins.” We have learned to trust each other. We do not fight the way we used to. Gomber considers this a very beneficial relationship. “To find someone – a friend and artist – to collaborate in this field is rare. We have stood the test of time. We are fortunate that we have grown up in such a way that our ethos is still the same, ”says the actor-producer.
Recently two prominent members of his cast – Vira Sathidar, who played the role of Narayan Kamble in the court, and famous filmmaker Sumitra Bhave, who lent her voice for Mai’s character in The Dissal – were huge There was shock. “Vira’s death was difficult for Fah. Even though he had strong political views, he was very careless. To feel that his energy will not be in our midst is sad, ”says Gomber. He was planning to hold a special screening for Bhave before he passed away. “He had this zest for life and you would assume that he was invincible. I can no longer watch both films the same.