Sunday again, and the thudding and thumping of my heartbeat shoot up. The 3rd edition of the celebrity interview series of mine takes place today. #i_am_me slowly on the verge of being a movement for us rather than being just another hashtag that we use. This week we are talking to and about a man with multiple personalities, no-no, don’t get me wrong, he is not suffering from any disorder, but he is the anecdote of how you can carry multiple people and potencies in you at one point of time and still stay as humble, as grounded as you can.
I got to know about him in my early days of theatre where everyone around me used to talk about him and how much fun he is to hang around with and how great of a learning experience it is to work with him. My bad that when I started, he had already left the place and settled in Mumbai.
We are talking about the theatre artist, the actor, the writer, the director, the person who always comments with his impeccable sense of humour, we are talking about the Senior VP and National Head Creative Services of Radio Mirchi – Mr Vipul Krishna Nagar.
Freelancing my Early Life
Hailing from the Land of Moksha – Banaras, also known as Varanasi to many and Kashi to others, Vipul belonged to a very liberal family wherein he had full autonomy to pursue his choice of career. He started living his theatre life at the mere age of 3 while following the footsteps of his father who was a leading theatre activist of his time. Time passed by and like his father Vipul too grew to be a star in the world of performing art.
Not only in theatre but he was also known for writing scripts for Doordarshan Chitrahaar or plays for Akashvani and for hosting the prestigious celebrity events in “City Mahotsav”. Apart from being multi-talented in performing arts and being busy throughout the year in some way or the other, Vipul was also a Software Engineer and use to run his small firm wherein he used to take the contract for making software for Railways.
“I was doing a lot of this and that but honestly, this was all freelancing, everything. And small cities like Banaras has a tendency wherein when asked ‘What do you do for a living’, you need to have a reply to a standard job. Unfortunately, I was not into any. And I was growing old, enough to get married, which was a matter of concern for my family.”
Mirchi adding flavour
So in 2007, amidst all this, suddenly one day an add popped up in Dainik Jagran wherein Mirchi (Radio Mirchi that time) published an ad for their newly opening Radio Station in Banaras for various positions. “My dear ones asked me to go and try my luck, I too thought that if I get the job, it will be good from my marriage perspective too. Let me take it for now and I will quit after 2-3 months of my marriage. This was my thought while going for the interview as I use to think myself unfit for the service industry. Working under someone was not my personality.”
The interview happened and as the story unfolded, he was hired for a better position than what he went for.
“I did shows with Akashvani earlier too, I was a Professional Emcee, so I knew the art of playing around with mic. So all in my head was the job of Radio Jockey. I went for that, interviewed and the next day I come to know from the HR that my 2nd round would be for “Programming Head”. My first thought was that they might have mistaken me with someone else; my second thought was they have gone crazy. Thirdly, I was selected for the Banaras team.”
He laughs at this by stating that his friends actually had a bet that he won’t survive more than a month, few of them said a fortnight and few others were modest enough to take it till 2 months! 13 years have passed, and Mirchi lives his journey from being a mere Programming Head of a B-town to National Head of Creative.
“While going through all the documentation, just before a day that I got the offer letter, the marriage proposal came too.” he smiles.
The Stone-Hinged Theory of Life
“I truly believe that I am just like a stone and anyone or everyone who came in my life carved me into a better sculpture.”
The man with numerous talents believes in being a learner throughout his life and that one can learn from everyone they come across if they are willing to. “Everyone in my life came and worked on me, and turned me into a sculpture. Though I really cannot comment, the sculpture is good or bad.” That’s how modest he is. Mirchi gave him the exposure where he travelled to all parts of the country, and met people with different mindsets. Some people welcomed him with open arms, from others he learned himself making room for it.
Mumbai- The dream got wings
Mumbai became his hub, and he started producing shows like ‘Mahesh Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt’s Show’ then ‘The Devdutt Pattnaik’s Show’ among many others. When you work with such talented people and you switch on your learning mode, you get to know your other side as well, the side which tells you that you are yet to learn a lot while learning a lot. “I was always fascinated with biographies of legends as you get to learn from the living experiences around you. Mirchi gave me the exposure to work with the legends as well, be it, Sonu Nigam or Javed Akhtar. So being in their company, having that aura of exposure and knowledge, it has changed my personality a lot.”
Life in and around Theatre
Being into theatre myself for quite some time, I didn’t want to let go of this opportunity wherein I talk to him about life- a theatre artist lives, his journey, the pain or struggle the artist goes through while portraying every character, sometimes while not portraying as well. Coming from Banaras I know that the culture of free shows in theatre has not changed in small cities.
In Hindi belt, the tradition of buying tickets for theatre could never be developed much as compared to Marathi, Gujarati or Bengali theatre.
“There is a book of Shambhu Mitra Ji titled ‘Hum Natak Kyon Karte Hain?’, though, in this book he talks of various aspects of why a person does theatre, I personally witness few people and wonder why exactly they do it” he smiles sarcastically. It also explains it further that people often mistook professional theatre with commercial theatre. In Hindi belt, the tradition of buying tickets for theatre could never be developed as compared to Marathi, Gujarati or Bengali theatre. In between, few times people did try to commercialize it, we also did in our times, ‘Shaukiya Rangmanch bhi Professional hota hai’, he adds. He had procrastination for the Mumbai theatre that he might not be able to find a place for himself, as there were eminent personalities from NSD or other drama schools, people from TV and Bollywood, but it’s only when he stepped-in, that he got immense respect and appreciation from the fraternity for his work.
“I studied theatre very seriously to evolve my personality.”
“I got to know that hard work and focus towards what you do, is respected everywhere. I got appreciation from people in the Mumbai theatre too for my work and knowledge. I studied theatre very seriously and full-heartedly since my early days but not to make money out of it. I did it to evolve my personality. My father too was into theatre. So I knew from the very first day that you can’t survive while doing this. However, Theatre in Mumbai has a culture for purchasing tickets. Here for a show of Naseer Sahab, tickets price around 1500 and still, the show goes house full. And not only people from the fraternity but audience comes too, to witness it. Hindi belt never rose to that level. We still call our families and friends to come and watch our plays, and I believe it’s going to remain like that.”
MIRCHI ka Tadka
A person who got stuck to his first job itself and made a career for himself, a person who used to think that he was not made for this industry, what compelled him to stay this far, is a big question! And I just couldn’t resist myself from asking it.
“I always had a fear for this industry, as it was never my personality to work under someone. The boss culture that normally exists in the service industry always use to frighten me. But then, Mirchi happened and I came across such cool and amiable people with whom I worked and still working. I got the privilege and scope to process and channelize my thoughts into action and it was a big deal for me” and proudly adds how just after 6 months of him being the Programming Head of the Banaras Station, he was promoted as the U.P. Head.
Has Radio changed over the period?
“A lot has changed. Earlier people use to hear the radio, now they see it! In 2012, when social media came into existence for the masses, everything around us changed including Radio. Radio was already a passive medium. Now podcasts and online radio is also there, so change is already in process. But that doesn’t deny the existence of the old. Nothing fancy is happening now in Akashvani, as compared to 10 or 15 years back, but Akashvani is still running. It’s good, I like changes. I believe in the phrase – Change is always for good.”
But does he feel that Radio still has a career, now that everything is digitalized?
“People who want to opt now for Radio, they should understand how it is changing.
“People who want to opt now for Radio, they should understand how it is changing. If they can adopt the changes, then surely there is scope. Now everything revolves around The digital world, even Radio. We don’t even call ourselves Radio Mirchi anymore, its just Mirchi. In our industry, people are on-ground, we are on TV, we are in web-series, so the transformation is there. If you can fit yourself into all this, then yes, Radio has a career for you still.”
This bought me to the last question of this segment, which I too felt a bit awkward when I came to know about it, which is – unlike any other radio station, Mirchi does not take experienced people. So, why is it so that Mirchi only hire freshers?
The sauce professional replied with panache“It’s hard to make people unlearn. If you already have worked in some other station, you know how things work and the moment a similar thing is provided to you, your brain starts functioning on the old pattern. Mirchi is different, the way we work is completely different. And the way we want people to learn the work is entirely different.
Quest for Equality, Bias and Women Empowerment!
Our mindset should carry equality all the time.
“I believe a lot depends on the perspective. I have a certain upbringing, then a career, a societal shift that I see over the years which makes me believe that yes, things have changed. Sometimes we do hear cases about women too, who takes advantage out of this but we need to understand that we have dominated women for millions of years, now if there’s a rampage in the society about women doing unwanted things in the name of women empowerment, we cannot complain. There will be few cases like this. But yes, an overall impact is there in society. The society from where I came from and the society where I live now, there is a change.”
He further adds by saying, I believe discrimination exists in 3 forms in society:-
1) In the form of gender
2) In the form of race, and
3) In the form of money
These things shouldn’t be in practice.
What is Women Empowerment according to you?
“The best way to dictate this is to stop talking about it. The more naturally it comes in people, the better it is. Our mindset should carry equality all the time. You are not superior or better than anyone else in this world. We live in a country where women only don’t support women. I believe we should focus more on our homes. If everyone just focuses on the mindset towards women in their homes, it solves the purpose well.”
Do you have any role model?
Answer to this question gave a peep into the Sufi life mantra of flowing with the flow
“I consider myself as a mere stone; people came into my life and sculpted me the way I am today. Everyone, be it on radio, theatre, everywhere. There have been many people in my life from whom I have learned. Few made me learn by their will, from others I learned strenuously. But I always had this knack of learning which kept me going, till today. My father has been my biggest role model though.”
As the renaissance man concludes the conversation I am left amazed with the humbleness and clarity of thoughts and the vast experience he carries. Of all the roles he has played, of all the relations he has maintained in all these years, I could go on simply talking about it but would like to sum-up my emotions and this article with the famous couplet of Jigar Moradabadi Ji:-
उन का जो फ़र्ज़ है वो अहल-ए-सियासत जानें
मेरा पैग़ाम मोहब्बत है जहाँ तक पहुँचे