The road that leads to The Viral Fever Labs (TVF) office at Aram Nagar in Mumbai’s Versova resembles a dirt track but its founder, Arunabh Kumar has come a long way, literally and figuratively. Kumar, the youngest of three brothers and an electrical engineer from IIT Kharagpur, would have found it easier to infiltrate Bangladesh than break into the nepotistic copycat club that is Bollywood. But the Sulemani Keeda prevailed and via many an irreverent script, Kumar and his team have created a rising digital media star.
‘Victory loves preparation’ goes a Latin adage and Kumar’s story is full of fortuitous incidents that happened, as he stretched himself to the max after the theatre and film making bug bit him in the ‘second semester of third year’. In January 2004, he went to IIM-C for a national theatre festival. As the head of dramatics society in IIT-KGP, he wrote, directed a couple of street plays. Struck by a new found love for storytelling, Kumar decided to learn more about film making. After the fourth year, he interned with Josy Paul at RMG David, a creative hotshop Paul had co-founded with Madhukar Sabnavis. Paul may not be Don Draper but industry veterans attest that he has a Groucho Marx side to him. No wonder, Kumar fondly refers to him as his tormentor.
After completing his engineering, he landed back in Mumbai on an assignment with Aerospace Research and Development, an arm of the US Air Force. “Though I loved mathematics and what we were doing, after a point I got bored. I was to leave for Tokyo for a project module but I walked away.” With plans to become a short film maker, he started cold calling production houses for a job as an assistant director, but kept getting shooed off at the reception desk.
“So, I began dressing up in formals and started pitching that I want to understand the technology behind cinema and how visual effect is used in movies,” Kumar says, breaking into uncontrolled laughter.
The attire was for effect but his int