The One Man Army
By Subhojit Panda
Being an IT engineer means spending hours together working on computer hardware, software and networking tools thereby leaving almost no time for the IT employees to pursue their passion. But what if you are a lyricist, music video director and producer, script writer, author, photographer and an IT engineer? Sounds impossible but this is the case of 29-year old Bangalorebased Deepak Ranjan Behera who is a revered name in the world of music videos in Odisha. With over ten music videos to his name, the talented lyricist has now kept his eyes on directing commercial films soon. “Growing up, I was always inclined towards the creative field. I was good at painting and frequently wrote articles for magazines. I used to keenly watch serials and movies and aspired to be a part of the film industry,” says Deepak, a native of Narsinghpur. During school days, Deepak never wasted time in playing with his friends. He rather visited shooting sets, interacted with the producers, directors and actors and watched how a film was being shot. Deepak then fell in love with photography and purchased a new camera by going against his parent’s wish. He soon found himself assisting a few directors in the screenplay department. “I feel glad to have worked with renowned Ollywood writer Bijay Mishra, veteran actor-director Ajit Das and talented director Susant Mani for a few projects. Though I was pursuing engineering in computer science, my heart, mind and soul wandered around the showbiz world. I was making constant efforts for a major breakthrough in the industry,” he says. After completing M.Tech, Deepak joined an IT company in Bangalore leaving aside all the dreams of working for Ollywood. For nearly a year, he turned into a quintessential IT person shuttling between office and home. Deepak felt his initial experience in Bangalore came handy. The struggle in a new city and tough IT life taught him more than he expected. He soon discovered a writer in him and wrote a romantic fiction ‘Nights of the Velvet: A Conditional Dream’ in 2015. “I used to write after returning from work late at night. The book became an instant hit as readers could connect themselves with the story.” Despite his busy schedule, Deepak was constantly in touch with Ollywood directors and producers over phone and social media with a hope that he might get to work for the industry again. Despite repeated warm responses from them, he kept his composure and focused on his profession. Deepak always wanted to direct a project on cyber crime. So he wrote a script for a TV series named Cyber Law in January 2015. “After the scripting process was over, I started a new production house by the name DMP Motion Pictures (now Addictive Shots). I came to Bhubaneswar on leave for 15 days to shoot the episodes and got Ollywood superstar Sidhant Mohapatra on board for the TV series. Though a few episodes were successfully shot, they could not be aired. A private TV channel refused to air the TV series due to poor picture clarity and execution of the episodes. My lack of experience over camera, editing and direction department cost me dearly. I felt I had failed as a director and had to shelve the project in between,” says Deepak who cherished working with the Ollywood great Sidhant Mohapatra and wishes to work with him in the future. The failure of the project had a deep impact on Deepak and he took nearly 2 years to hit the showbiz world. In between he wrote another fantasy novel named ‘An Eclipse of Yesteryear’ that got published in October 2016. By the end of 2016, the talented director realized that he was slowly drifting apart from Ollywood industry and it was time to stage a comeback. If he does not pick up his creative hat, then he might never get to work for the industry again. Realizing that music video was the in-thing for Ollywood, Deepak decided to make a music video using the lyrics that he had penned down two years ago. “I decided to start from scratch. I purchased an HD camera and watched video tutorials on YouTube to learn the tricks of filmmaking. My colleague Rajesh Kumar Mahanta also shared the same passion as mine. So I got him on board to direct the music video. We put up an advertisement on Facebook asking aspiring models to work for Addictive Shots. We got many applications and found Aryan and Poornima (Anjel Tripathy) perfect for the music video. In February 2017, the music video Jaane Na Ki Tu Mo Valentine was shot entirely in Bangalore and released on YouTube on Valentine’s Day. The video got mixed response with a few people raising fingers on its music and various other aspects,” reminisces Deepak. Deepak was not bogged down by the negative criticism. He decided to work on his shortcomings to silent his detractors. With Mother’s Day approaching, he planned to dedicate a music video on mothers. “I shot a music video named ‘Mora Maa’ starring Aryan and Kannada actress Suma Rao. My colleague Rohan gave music direction and a lot of hard work went behind the video,” says Deepak adding that he was flooded with congratulatory calls and messages from everyone who appreciated the video. During this phase, I shot another music video ‘Tu Mo Maana Abhimaana’ on father-son relationship starring singer Abhijeet Mishra and child actor Ruhan. The video was shot entirely in Odisha and got released on Father’s day. Spurred by the success of his previous two music videos, Deepak again cast a spell over music lovers with a Hindi romantic music video ‘Bataa De Khudaa’ starring Kannada actress Subharaksha and Aryan. The music video was shot in Goa and Bangalore and released on YouTube. “Though a lot was spent from our pockets to shoot the video, we were creatively satisfied with our work,” says Deepak who currently works for the IT giant Mindtree. Deepak then came up with two more romantic music videos that got released in August. While ‘Prema Re Tora Diwana Heli’ had Kannada actress Priyanka and Aryan in the lead, ‘Soulmates: Ei Jeenbaa Ta Jeenbaa Nuhen To Bina’ starred Aman, Sushree, Ruhan and veteran actor Ajit Das with music direction by Biswaswarup. Deepak then shot another music video ‘Saathiya’ starring Anjel and Aryan in August followed by ‘Me Before You’ starring Kannada TV actor Raj Aryan and Shalini and ‘Mane Pade Atitara Dina Sabu’ with Shrikant in the lead. Deepak is upbeat about his new music video ‘Tuma Otha Tale’ that got released recently. “I’ve repeated the same pair (Anjel and Aryan) in the video. They’ve done an amazing job. People have loved the concept and video,” says Deepak who considers Sidhant Mohapatra, Anu Choudhury, Rachana Bannerjee and Aparajita Mohanty among his favorites actors. And it is Deepak’s eye for the unusual that sets his work apart. Soulful music is another USP of his music videos. “I was lucky that I didn’t have to scour the globe to find the right person for my music videos. I’ve mostly worked with Aryan as I share a different level of comfort zone with him. I’m glad he is making his debut as the lead actor of an Odia flick,” says Behera who considers Odia filmmaker Susant Mani as his inspiration. Asked how he manages to strike a balance between the IT and showbiz, Deepak says, “It’s all about proper time management. When I’m working on a music video project I tend to forget about my IT profession and when I’m an IT guy, the showbiz industry never crosses my mind. I mostly plan my shooting schedules during weekends. I visit Odisha after every two or three months for an extended period to shoot the music videos. I believe with proper focus, dedication and hard work no force on earth can stop you from reaching your destination. My colleagues and friends often get surprised with my work schedule.” (laughs) Deepak has just finished working on a short mythological musical film starring Anu Choudhury and Aryan which is slated to release in February this year. “It’s again a dream project. I can’t wait for people to watch it.” While the big dream is to make a feature film, Deepak is planning to come up with autobiographies of two eminent Ollywood personalities very soon.