Victor Banerjee's daughter walks a different road
Unlike most other star children, Keya Banerjee hasn't followed father Victor Banerjee's footsteps even if, as FX (visual- effects) supervisor, she inhabits the same world of cinema.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Says the youngster who has gone into an area of cinema that's relatively unexplored in Bollywood and has just got rave reviews for her first major assignment "Laskhya": "I knew very early in life that I wasn't cut out for acting when I played the lead role in a school play, and I never got another role.
"It's something I'd love to do, but am not good at. I'm okay with that. Not acting isn't a lingering regret or anything."
She adds: "I enjoy watching my dad. I recently saw him in 'Bhoot'. It was fun. I remember after 'A Passage to India', we had a lovely celebration at home. But life just went on as normal. Yes, we were a very well-adjusted Bengali family."
Though Dad Victor is such a fine actor, he never brought his work home. "My elder sister, who's a scientist in Indiana, US, and I never got to see glimpses of the actor at home. We only know him as a wonderful dad, nothing more nothing less. It was like any other job for him. We did accompany him off and on to his shoots. But only as guests. We were never part of that rigmarole."
She gets sentimental while speaking of her father. "Every daughter thinks her dad is the best. But I truly believe my father is the most wonderful man in the world. Considering his work, he gave us two sisters a heck of a lot of time. In fact he took an eight-year break from his career to bring us up."
Dwelling on her unusual choice of career as a special-effects supervisor, she says: "I guess I was naturally inclined towards the arts. I was into painting and art ever since I can remember. Later, I was also keenly interested in computer graphics. Very early, I was given a graphics course as a graduation present by my parents. So I guess becoming a visual-effects supervisor was only a logical step forward."
Did Dad help with Keya's chosen career?
"Not really. I was working at UTV and 'Lakshya' came to me through the company. Earlier, I had done visual effects for films including 'Tumko Na Bhool Payenge' and 'Na Tum Jano Na Hum'.
"But 'Lakshya' was my big break as an FX supervisor. I couldn't have hoped for a better break. It was an incredible experience," says the Mumbai girl who has been here since 1995.
She left Kolkata when she was eight to attend school in Mussoorie. "Living in a hostel, I learnt to make friends very quickly. They helped me grow as a human being."
Everyone is talking about the rock-climbing sequences in "Lakshya", which Keya has supervised.
"People say they're inspired by the Sylvester Stallone starrer 'Cliffhanger'. To be very honest, as luck would have it we didn't even see 'Cliffhanger' before doing 'Lakshya'. The art director gave us a 60 ft by 100 ft set on which we did what we could."
A visual-effects supervisor seems like an anomaly in Hindi cinema. "But we're getting there," says Keya hopefully.
"India is well on the way to becoming a global force, and cinema is also a part of that movement. We don't lag behind in any detail."
After "Lakshya", Keya now has another major film lined up. "But I'm not at liberty to tell you about it. What I can tell you is that I'm supervising the visual effects on two ads right now."
She still wonders at being a woman in what's considered a man's job. "But to be perfectly honest I make myself very comfortable on the sets. I'm friendly with everyone. So there's no boy-girl issue at all.
"I'll continue to do this as long as I don't burn myself out. I'm proud of being part of the process of Bollywood growing. I'm not keen on going abroad. If I've to choose between a Bollywood and Hollywood film, I'd any day opt for our own."