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From working with Vidhu Vinod Chopra to forming own company, this Apeejay alumnus’ journey is inspirational

Apeejay College of Fine Arts alumnus Vijay Nayyar recalls the first time he met Aamir Khan at Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s office

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Vijay Nayyar, an alumnus of Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA), wears many hats—he is a video editor, director, filmmaker, writer, and singer. After working for a few years as an editor at Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s production company, he went on to launch his own venture to produce independent music and short films. Prior to his stint at Vinod Chopra Films, he also directed a couple of Punjabi films. Nayyar, who is based out of Mumbai, had his share of ups and downs in his journey but nothing could break his spirit—he continues to tread the path of creativity. He tells us about his job in Mumbai, his first meeting with Aamir Khan, and more in a brief  tête-à-tête:

Take us through your journey at ACFA.

My journey at ACFA began in 2005 and it opened up a new world for me. The institute gave me a lot of exposure, which shaped me into what I am today. Hailing from a remote area in Punjab, ACFA was the one that broadened my horizons.

How did you develop an interest in filmmaking?

We had a course in ACFA on video editing and that’s where the journey started. In the final years of college, we made two short films, which opened up for me the opportunity to exercise my directorial abilities. I began my professional journey in the film industry as an editor. After working in the industry in Punjab and Delhi for a while—where I even directed a feature film—I finally moved to Mumbai in 2014.

In Mumbai, you worked with Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s production house. Tell us more.

That was the time when ‘PK’, which was co-produced by Vinod Chopra Films, was in its final days of film shooting. They needed an editor to complete the final patchwork and that is when I joined the company. Later, I was involved in the core production team of ‘Wazir’, which was also co-produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. I quit the company in 2017 and started working independently.

I was also one of the directors of the Mumbai Film Festival. In 2019, I started my own company called Plan B Entertainment where I create music and short films and upload some of them on YouTube. This is my personal venture that I run only for passion. Currently, I am in the process of writing new songs that will be released soon. Meanwhile, I regularly work on projects with MX Player, Shemaroo, and Discovery as a creative director and editor. So far, the journey has been thrilling and full of learnings.

Tell us how you landed the job at Vinod Chopra Films.

I was looking for a job after coming to Mumbai. I got to know from someone that there was a job opening for an editor for four-five days for ‘Broken Horses’, directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. But at that time, I wasn’t aware it was his film or for that matter, his company. A month later, I finally got a call from his office for ‘PK’; when I checked the address, I realised it was the same office where I had worked earlier.

To be honest, I was very nervous during the first few days of my stint. I remember meeting screenwriter Abhijat Joshi for the first time. I also distinctly remember my very first interaction with Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

It was around this time that film critic and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s wife Anupama Chopra decided to start her venture ‘Film Companion’, which is quite popular today. I collaborated with her to oversee the technical aspects of the show. I remember once we were having some discussion about this when Aamir Khan entered the room suddenly and I completely lost my calm! I vividly remember the moment and still get goosebumps thinking about it!

But was life tough before that? What challenges or struggles did you have to face in your journey?

Personally, I have never treated any hardship as a challenge. I would not say I struggled to make my way as we usually hear about artistes. I look out for opportunities with an open mind, without setting very high expectations. But I have always been eager to learn.

I did not have any connections in Delhi when I moved to the city from Punjab. There were a few initial hiccups; I was hesitant to ask for a job. But people were ready to give me a chance once they knew that I was from Apeejay. Thereafter, my journey has been good, notwithstanding a few problems here and there.

Are you working on any other project now?

I am working on two film scripts. Whether I make short films or features, they are low-budget films that I fund myself.

Do you think there is an audience for independent films in our country?

I would say the audience for independent films has developed over the past decade. Thanks to OTT platforms, this audience is growing in numbers. 

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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