Suvojit Roy - CEO, Orion Entertainment provides a glimpse into the pioneering star ascending in Bengali Film & Music (Interview)

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Suvojit Roy, CEO, Orion Entertainment, KolkataGermantown, Maryland, Jan 30, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Suvojit Roy is CEO of Orion Entertainment of Kolkata, a media organization in a leadership position among only the handful of suave modern enterprises in Bengal who are spearheading a resurgence in Bengali performing arts and culture after a slowdown over the past couple of decades. Suvojit talks to Arijit Chakraborty in this informal and candid interview about Suvojit's background, career, passions, aspirations and of course the rapid ascendancy of Orion Entertainment in a short span of time driven by unique software and a diligent attention to packaging.

Suvojit's career over the last 17 years or so in the entertainment industry is a fascinating one. Suvojit belongs to a family of well established lawyers and accountants, and partly driven by the legacy of elders in his illustrious family, Suvojit is himself an accomplished management accountant with a financial background by training. Like many Bengalees, Suvojit grew up with a strong interest in performing arts and culture - music, film, literature, sports and so on. Though such a diverse set of interests is not uncommon among Bengalees, Suvojit's interests were not just confined to being extra-curricular involvement engaged in at his spare time - Suvojit was, and remains, very serious about his passions, ranging from Rabindranath Tagore to soccer (particularly the East Bengal Club variety of soccer!) Of particular importance within Suvojit's eclectic sphere of interests is his investigation of ways to communicate with large numbers of people effectively, dabbling in and accumulating first-hand experience in mass communications from his very young days.

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Suvojit studied at South Point school in Calcutta, and among his buddies are Amritendu Palit (now an accomplished senior officer with The Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and son of renowned Bengali writer Dibyendu Palit) and Sourav Kar. The trio founded "Utopia" when they were just 16-year old students at South Point. Utopia had the noble goal of helping those in the society who were seeking help - a remarkable charter for kids still in their teens! Activities like these formed the foundation of Suvojit's later personal and professional goals - priorities were shaped in his mind that would help him in choosing a path from life's later crossroads that led towards deeper fulfillment than just earning loads of money.

A young Suvojit armed with a professional training in finance worked in his field for a 12 long years with considerable success - but Suvojit sensed a vacuum in his soul all those years - so much so that he describes how he went to work with a negative attitude every morning, feeling in his self a lack of motivation due to not being able to do what he really wanted to.

As we have said before, Suvojit's passion for music and culture was much more than just an interest. He took lessons from the iconic Rabindrasangeet exponent Late Suchitra Mitra who we lost a few weeks ago - and as Suvojit says in this interview, he strongly believes the motivation to give up a spectacular career in finance and management accounting to follow his heart's desire to work in the field of media entertainment derives largely from his teacher and the values she inculcated in him.

Sometime a small incident represents a great paradigm shift in the lives of people like Suvojit Roy. Suvojit desribes his immense sense of satisfaction on designing a web-site for his alma-mater Rabitirtha Music Academy (founded in 1946 by Dwijen Chowdhury and Suchitra Mitra) - a web-site that was inaugurated by Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Chief Minister of West Bengal.

In another fortuitous development for all of us in Suvojit's career, while Suvojit was working with the Calcutta Electric Supply Corp. (CESC), the folks at the RPG group decided to try to maximize the utiliztion of their inhouse talent pool by shuffling people between the group's companies, which included CESC and Saregama (erstwhile HMV). Suvojit soon found himself going to work to the hallowed halls of HMV-Saregama as head of content for Saregama's Eastern India business !

Suvojit observes, correctly, that the two biggest brand names in the Bengali world are Saregama-HMV and Anandabazar Patrika. Suvojit was ecstasic on realizing then his dream of working with one of these two icons (of course, later on, he would also work with Anandabazar Patrika, too - as you will hear the story in the interview).

As one would expect, Suvojit soon established some new trends at HMV and caught the eye of everyone there - and in his shining but brief span of working with HMV (for four and a half years), Suvojit's contributions took HMV-Saregama from a company with very few top-grade artists signed up to virtually all of the biggest artists signed up with them.

Soon the lust for trying different things and taking up greater challenges to further open up his mind caught up with Suvojit - and at another opportune moment, the Anandabazar Patrika Group decided to launch their own FM radio station in Kolkata and reached out to Suvojit - who, of course, jumped at the opportunity of working with the second iconic brand of Bengalees, and went on to be one of the founders of the superhit Friends 91.9 FM Channel in Kolkata. Friends FM was established keeping in mind the wide diversity of the Bengalee's interests - a dynamic radio platform in a way inspired by All India Radio to act as an incubator of talent to create new artists of national repute.

Subsequently, after a brief stint with Sony Entertainment in India, Suvojit decided to take the boldest step yet after meeting Dr. Purnendu Roy, renowned laparoscopic surgeon and founder of Genesis Hospital in Kolkata, who shares the same passions and synergy with Suvojit, and started their own label Orion Entertainment.

Suvojit's words of inspiration and wisdom, deep rooted in his own experience, are very relevant for all of us fellow Bengalees. He believes in honestly attempting to realize one's dreams with integrity, focus and hard work - the fail-safe recipe for success. People of his mind-set do not hesitate to challenge conventional wisdom, and try things their own way - again basic traits of people who make a difference in society. You will, no doubt, derive inspiration and comfort from Suvojit's words in the interview.

Orion Entertainment under the leadership of Suvojit is progressing rapidly towards becoming a UTV Motion Pictures of Kolkata, and Suvojit personally draws inspiration from Ronnie Screwvala, the UTV supremo. Suvojit talks about the audience Orion focuses on (and the importance of understanding the target audience and the true meaning of latest buzz-words like "content-driven marketing"), and the unique and genre-defying work that Orion is doing with albums like Yatra (Nachiketa & Ustad Rashid Khan), Matiswar (Dohar), Bindaas Bangla (Dibyendu) and so on. Suvojit hints at a fascinating album titled "ENSEMBLE" which will feature Ustad Rashid Khan with unique instrumentation including saxophones, fretless guitars and the like, directed by the great Tabla exponent Pt Subhankar Banerjee (WBRi Exclusive Interview), and Orion's upcoming films like Chaplin (Bengali, 2011), the Gautam Ghosh (WBRi Exclusive Interview) documentary on Ustad Bismillah Khan ("Meeting a Milestone"), a film on Utpal Dutta titled "In Search Of Theater" and so on. Orion Entertainment has an enviable record of publishing collector's items which will only grow stronger over coming years.

Suvojit also rightly laments about the peculiar Bengali tendency to be unappreciative of their own culture, in spite of being tremendously rich in their heritage, and stresses the importance and the responsibility of Bengali entertainment media to remind Bengalees to not overlook their own rich traditions in the age of pizza and burgers.

The understanding of intellectual property is crucial for growth of a cutting-edge entertainment company like Orion. Suvojit shares with us some of Orion's vision, mission, core advantages and glimpses of their business model, without which no company can survive over the long term. We wish Suvojit Roy and Orion Entertainment all the very best and look forward to their unique productions and spectacular growth over the coming years.

Interview Details
Host: Arijit Chakraborty, Washington Bangla Radio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Recorded, Edited and Article Written By: Supratim Sanyal, Washington Bangla Radio, Washington DC, USA