Those who took lessons in histrionics from him, say he is a hard task master but if you seek his comment about himself, he simply says: "I had a passion for theatre and I used to work hard because I am a perfectionist."
Vijay Bose is a well-known stalwart of theatre and many a good artiste of drama admit they have been groomed by him. Vijay Bose is also popular as Bade Bhaiya. But these two names classify his role and personality in two fields -- drama and children's programme of All India Radio (AIR). His role as Bade Bhaiya in children's programmes -- 'Bal Sangh' and 'Aao Bachchon' became so popular that even his colleagues in AIR used to call him Bade Bhaiya. He also has four collections of short stories for children to his credit. One of his stories was even included in Class VI syllabus in Maharashtra.
Bose, who has his roots in Lucknow, joined AIR as a drama voice in Allahabad in 1949 and retired in 1989 from this city only. Since there used to be live broadcast of AIR programmes, all artistes had to work hard before the real performance. Besides, for many years radio remained the only electronic medium of news and entertainment. This gave ample opportunities to radio artistes to gain name and fame. However, the popularity was not accompanied by money.
Bose's craze for theatre can be felt from the fact that he participated in a play when he was only nine and later when he joined AIR and settled in Allahabad, he formed his own theatre group known as North Indian Theatrical Association (NITA) in 1949 with the help of some radio artistes. Besides acting in many plays, he also directed many plays written by renowned playwrights like Sharat Chandra Chatterji, Ravindra Nath Tagore, Kamaleshwar and Upendra Nath 'Ashk.'
Bose regrets that despite giving ample recognition to artistes, theatre fails to give enough money. "I have seen Prithviraj Kapoor staging wonderful shows in Allahabad and standing at the gate of auditorium after the conclusion of the shows to collect money to feed his artistes. Ultimately, he had to switch over to films for a sufficient income," he recalls.
The excerpts from the interview:
The then station director of AIR, Girija Kumar Mathur, who had penned the song "Hum hongey kamyab ek din" was directing a play and my voice was supposed to be coming from a long distance. Since the studio was small and the real sound effect was difficult, we sat together to devise the way. Ultimately, Mathur suggested me to enter a big box (in which music instruments were kept) to give the sound effect. I entered the box and the desired result was achieved. We were in habit of working hard to produce the best.
Renowned poet Sumitranandan Pant, who was literary advisor to AIR, wrote many a script for AIR plays and he used to give me lead roles. Pantji was very affectionate to me and appreciated my roles in various plays. Dr Ram Kumar Verma specifically gave me the lead role in 'Rajat Rashmi' play.
I remember a meeting with the noted poet Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala'. We had to produce a play based on his poem 'Ram ki Shakti puja.' I decided to contact Niralaji to get an idea for reciting his poem. I touched his feet and took my seat and told him the purpose of my visit. After some time, he read his poem and asked me to read it before him. At some places, he even improved my style.
Later, he said it was satisfactory and asked me to leave.
Once, we had to record a programme of the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at Anand Bhawan. In the last the national anthem was sung.
Though I was recording the programme, I too recited the national anthem. But after the recital was over, Nehruji admonished me for not standing in "full-attention" mode and also suggested the children to understand his advice. I feel, Nehruji too was a votary of a perfect show.