Q] How did you start your career? And how has the journey been so far?
I was never a regular child, I was a problematic child for my parents, but was always interested in doing my own things. I was a very enthusiastic sportsperson, and represented my school and state at national level in swimming.
Later, I joined mass communication and was accepted in all the colleges because I was a national swimmer. Finally, I enrolled in mass communi-cation, and that’s where I realized I had a lot of inclination towards media. In my final semester, I got an internship at an advertising agency called Ushakaal Advertising, where they were making this film called ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla.’ I joined there as an intern, and ended up getting fund credit in the film.
So that’s when my career began. I was 20 years old when I started to work in films, and had worked in about 18 other feature films in Bollywood.
Q] From your point-of-view, what do you think has changed in the media and entertainment industry from the time you entered the industry 20 years ago?
A lot has changed, and the whole industry has come a long way now. A lot of women you see these days are heading a lot of departments, including cinematography, but we are still 1% in the entire lot. It’s still a male-dominated industry, women still get paid less as compared to their male counterparts. Though a lot has changed in the industry in the last 20 years, it’s still a struggle to some extent. Having said that, today there is acceptance and there is a bit of safety as well, especially after the #MeToo campaign. Besides, it’s a very high-pressure industry because it’s all about timeline and fast-pace. But I enjoyed it thoroughly, and yes, the biggest thing that I’ve realized is that nothing much has changed in terms of the things that were done in the broadcast ecosystem, especially in Television. Yes, we have moved from an SG to HD, from mono to 5.1, but the whole technological chain has been just minimal, and that’s what really bothered me for a very long time. When I joined Star India
and Viacom, we did a lot of industry-first work, and still there is a long way to go.
What we are trying to do is make a dent in the whole ecosystem, and we realize that stepping out of that ecosystem will be the only possible way to make any change. I’ve been trying to make a change by building my own start-up.
Q] After being in the corporate world for so long, what inspired you to start something of your own? How has your prior experience helped you in your current pursuits?
I have worked with Star, and was heading Star Plus commercials. I have also worked with Viacom where I was a part of the Viacom commercial team, and then
I was a part of the content strategy team. So it is like a factory and a machine that the whole operating system is, first you have to understand the whole ecosystem to settle in.
I was very fortunate that Star believed in what I wanted to do, and it did allow us to make certain changes which did impact the industry overall, whether it was introducing the colour grading in the television ecosystem or whether it was shooting in 4K for television.
However, the whole process is slow, and you have to keep solving the daily challenges to come to the bigger picture. So, that’s when I realized that someday I will have to step out of the system and work for the betterment of the ecosystem.
Q] How would you describe Fandrum’s journey so far?
The journey has not been very smooth. If you have to try and make a disruptive space, it takes a lot of energy. When Uber was trying to come and cause disruption, the whole taxi union was against it. When you’re trying to make a change, everyone will be against you because there are already set norms, people are used to working in a certain way, and nobody wants to disrupt their way of working. But the fact of the matter is that people on the top level are also working for their jobs, only quarter by quarter matters to them. Whether they change the industry or not, it doesn’t fall into their KRA. So, it’s not been smooth, but we are trying.
We’ve got good broadcasters backing us. We have got the biggest stars in the south film industry backing us because they understand the need for this platform.
So it’s been slow and steady, but we are on the way, and we are progressing.
Q] What is your vision for Fandrum? Where do you see the platform in the next five years?
I want Fandrum to be adopted by the entire broadcast ecosystem, if not the whole, then at least 50% of it. We make stuff for people to watch and become fans. What Fandrum is wanting to do is give back to the fan community. We want to recognize and then validate and reward them for being a fan.
We need to thank them for their journey, that’s what we want to do, celebrating fans should become an essential part of the ecosystem. They should use fans as their marketers rather than just spending money on marketing.