Producer Vivek Kajaria rose to prominence with Marathi-language film “Fandry” (2013), a searing indictment of India’s caste system directed by Nagraj Manjule that won best film at the Mumbai Intl. Film Festival, and directing and acting awards at India’s national film awards. Since then, his company Holy Basil Prods., in association with Navalakha Arts, has been blazing a trail in the Indian independent film space. “This revolution of Indian independent cinema has happened recently. There are a bunch of upcoming producers who are ready to back good content not thinking about the big, star-driven films,” Kajaria tells Variety.
What made you produce Marathi-language films, when Hindi-language films have a wider reach?
A lot of factors play a major role here. First, this new young bunch of talented filmmakers wanting to create something which makes sense, something which has a lot to convey to people. Then the producers, who are wholeheartedly, courageously supporting this kind of cinema. Finally, the Marathi audience is very smart and intelligent. They want content. They want to see something meaningful. It is only because of them, that we get courage to produce such films. At film festivals outside India, it does not matter whether its Hindi, Marathi or Malayalam. The audience has to watch it with subtitles.
You are in Busan with your short “Durga.” What made you transition from being a producer to a director?
“Durga” is a story very close to my heart. I’ve lived with this story for ages, but never had the courage and skill to say it in the right way. Also, I was born in Kolkata, and as this story has a background of the Goddess Durga festival there, I am extremely familiar with the culture and the behavior. So finally after producing some films, as I stay on the sets during the shoot, I learned a lot from my directors. Hence, I took up this challenge to direct it myself, as I personally am very attached to the entire story and the environment of this film.
What projects are you currently involved with as a producer?
I’m producing a film called “Raakshas” (Marathi) to be directed by Dnyanesh Zoting that was in the Drishyam Sundance Screenwriters Lab and stars shooting in November. I’m also producing another Marathi film “Ek Number” to be directed by Samit Kakkad, which we begin shooting in early 2016. I am working on a couple of Hindi scripts with writers and directors, an Indo-Canadian project with a Canadian director, and an English-language film with a British director that are all at the development stage.