When Arbind Ray asked his previous line manager Peter, if he recognised
the A-List Hollywood Artistes that would seek Arbind's professional advice
he would retort "They don't recognise me...why should I recognise them!"
That was then. Nearly a decade later... now Arbind finds himself
surrounded by well known personalities as part of the
business he founded. Can you recognise them?

A Conversation with
Arbind Ray

Pictured above at the Theatre Royal in Stratford, East London's Cultural Quarter, Arbind provides an insight to his background briefly covering both business as well as creative aspirations. Hailing from the far east Indian province of Orissa, Arbind looks back at his formative years as he is under no illusion where his influences began.

How did you get involved in
Show Business?

I was studying at Stewart School in Cuttack City. My father's political aspirations would constantly compete with his medical profession and take the family to India regularly. On one occasion in particular, during a stint at Stewart School, I had been assigned the task of organising the entertainment for festivities.

This was the first time I had been given this type of responsibilty. I contacted a local distributor to source a film called Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan, which had been screened at the school on previous occasions. At what was the equivalent of today's cost of a DVD I realised I was in no position to hire the film as funds were limited. In the end the school managed without the screening and the competitive games I had organised with the help of classmates as an alternative for the event went smoothly.

That same year destinity would play a bizarre part in the way my life would be directed. A chance encounter with the actual makers of the same film was the first glimpse I would have of Bollywood, and the glitz and glamour associated with the industry. I was a teenager and whilst I was never starry eyed, I recognised the adulation most actors and actresses received from a loyal fanbase. Like most aspirants I too wanted to be in front of the camera but my pride would prevent me from expressing intent.

What do you mean?

When I was fourteen I ran away from home. I had the most feeble excuse one could have for pulling a stunt like that, the pain inflicted on family members from a single act of selfishness is inexcusable.

Shankar Mahadevan

It was an eye opener for me. Somehow I was hoodwinked into travelling BACK home instead. Having taken the train as far as Calcutta (Kolkata)
I then boarded a the opposite direction, convinced by my 'newfound friends', who were accompanying me at the time, that I was en-route
to Mumbai.

I laugh when I think back. Anything could have happened. I was reunited with my family within
three days and rather than risk another similar incident, my father acceded to my request to
live independantly in London. I was fifteen.
me this was history in the making. A couple of experiences prior to this included starting a private lending library while I was still at school, subsequently reinvesting the revenue in running a taxi shuttle service between Bhubaneshwar (Orissa's capital) and Cuttack proved lucrative.


I employed a professional driver in my business with the income generated which made me realise I would find it challenging working for another firm. True, I've had my fair share of gainful employment in the guise of the 'corporate ladder' but always felt I could be doing so much more. I made substantial profit for the company I worked for and in the end embarked on a career in film production.

Left of Arbind: Suleiman (Signature - Britains Got Talent
with Shazia and her Dancers

I had just returned from a three month vacation in India where I resided with the same film makers who had since become very close family friends. It was during this visit I realised the film industry was indeed a very serious business! On my return to England I acquired requisite skillsets by studying for a recognised university degree in Film Production from reputable institutions such as Oxford University and London South Bank University.

Looking after other business interests simultaneously whilst juggling family life was a challange I overcame quite naturally, since for once in my life I was passionate about the path I had chosen. I was enjoying every moment.

Mina Ray (wife) & Bappi Lahiri

Weren't you involved in staged events
prior to this?

Yes, again by pure chance. I would co-ordinate A-List artistes in the UK ensuring smooth workflow. End of the day you're looking at project management which includes a collaborative approach with all parties concerned.

For me, learning the craft as I went along provided me with the ideal opportunity to network with media personalities. A must in this line of business. Much of the business is based on trust.

How do you mean?

Well, there's trust on a personal level in terms of integrity of work ethic. In other words, stars in the public eye need to feel assured their privacy remains intact since you inevitably find yourself being their confidante.

On another level, technical proficiency in the chosen discipline has to be high on the list of priorities. As a director I am familiar with every aspect of film making;
from conceptualising the brief, fleshing out the storyline
by underpinning narrative structure with the foresight
of technical parameters associated with the production process. Again, it's a form of project management that

Preeti & Pinky (Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega)

requires a thorough understanding of all stages e.g. Camera, Editing, Lighting, Sound and Direction.


I consider myself fortunate to have hands on experience and an acute understanding of the psychologies involved in communicating with the audience via the audio-visual medium of cinema.

What is your tactical approach when it comes to choosing the type of projects you undertake?

Hmm...The strategy I've employed to date has been one of diversity as well as quality of subject matter. E.g. my body of work reflects English as well as Hindi projects. In being turned down by the majority of companies seeking youngsters they can mould at relatively minimal cost, I found myself having to create the work experience needed to get ahead in this field.

Because I am discerning of which projects I undertake, I've found the quality of my work is recognised by an equally impressive bank of talented artistes. In a way, as a creative practitioner, I have a high degree of appreciation for genuine talent, and I take on projects where there is scope to excel by adding layers to a jaded industry.

In the case of Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein for example, I felt remixes were a dime a dozen, and the only way to do justice to the musical arrangement was to work with subtexts within a parrallel storyline.

Each time you watch the music video you uncover something new thereby identifying subtle undercurrents contained within the visual codes inherent in most storylines. Without getting too academic, it's to do with social filters and the value of signs embedded within texts.

Google 'semiotics' and you'll see what I mean. However, let's not lose sight of the fact as well as being informative, there is ample 'eye-candy' for the average Joe to simply escape the daily grind and be entertained. I have been invited to direct a feature in Bollywood and will definitely consider proposals when I'm ready. In the meantime I have a few short films (English) that I'm working on, one with John Mayfield, a very talented composer. Besides the Ghazal, I am looking at R&B as well as a modern Punjabi number which seems to be all the rage these days...even Snoop Doggs at it...

Most Producers end up investing in property. You've had a head start. Do you find it helpful?

Well, I have a resourceful team of accountants, solicitors, financial advisors and business consultants working capably during acquisitions. But my portfolio is quite modest compared to many. I'm comfortable.

Sukhwinder Singh - Chhaiya Chhaiya

There's so much more I'd love to ask. I know you've been on stage, owned a niteclub, featured in many articles in the local and national newspapers including Man's World in Mumbai as well as appeared on numerous Radio & TV programmes such as Discovery Channel and even walked on fire! Any last words?

Just this; "Do what you love...and do it well. Find a way to get paid for it...and it's no longer work!"

Interviewed by KC 01.08.08


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