Friday, November 29, 2013

Won the Masala! award for the Best RJ and Best TV presenter in the UAE!

After winning the Masala! award in the BEST UAE RJ category, Lekha, the editor at Masala! asked what the award meant to me. I didn't have a quick answer then. I guess I have NOW.

I have never received 321 messages on facebook in a span of four hours ever. When I saw that number, my jaws disowned my mouth and my eyes its sockets. I have never ever felt so loved and so appreciated! All thanks to my awesome awesome job at the world’s BIGGEST BOLLYWOOD radio station- CITY 1016.
Last 24 hours have been a roller coaster in every sense of the word; physically, professionally and emotionally.

Thursday, 28th November was a much awaited day and a long one at that. Much awaited as it was the day when they announced the much anticipated Masala! Awards here in Dubai and I was nominated in two categories- best RJ and best TV presenter.
I woke up early, read up a bit on the movie I had to review- Bullet Raja, rushed to watch the first day first show and straight to work. I drafted the review, quickly posted online, prepared for my radio show, skipped breakfast, lunch and realized it was already 7 pm and I had not had a morsel.
At work we breezily talked about the awards ahead in the day. Tia Singh Khanna, the awesome human being that she is said-
“You truly deserve the award Loki because there is no other RJ who has made a mark in the last few years. The award belongs to you.” It’s this kind of encouragement in the team that makes City the BEST radio station to work at.
My boss sent me a message too wishing me luck and congratulating me on the success of the show and reassuring that we are the best radio station, trying our best, with or without an award. FOR ME, that was the BIGGEST award ever. Fiona Ann Munro- YOU ARE THE SWEETEST EVER!!!
Finishing work I reached home to head straight to the salon; haircut, shave, spike, all checked, I came back home, got ready for the Masala! awards! I was so hungry I could eat a horse. I quickly downed a couple of protein bars and zipped my way to Madinat Jumeirah.

In my exact 7 minutes of drive, my phone buzzed nonstop. Calls and all the best messages poured in like crazy; including a very heartfelt message from Sandeep from Indian High School and Parikshit, an ex RJ on Suno 1024. It’s always so nice to hear from competition. Just goes on to show how comfortable you are in your skin to wish your kin good luck. Parikshit respect bro!

The function started, met a few new people, the radio fraternity, friends from different walks of life. It’s always fun to meet a few people. Lekha the feature editor at a lifestyle magazine, Masala! is a great friend and looked gorgeous in her evening gown, scurried around, organizing things and attending everyone. Manju (the editor at Filmfare Middle east) and Gopika (the music manager at City 1016) were running slightly late and I felt home instantly when they both arrived. Varoin Marwah, an ace designer from Dubai is a gem, always so humble and grounded. He came looking for me, wishing me luck for my nomination. It really touched me how we both have met only at social occasions and how he felt it important to come and wish me personally.
Then there were RJs from Radio Mirchi, sweet and grounded. We all wished each other for the awards and watched the rest of the show.

Then came the time for the big announcement, the moment of truth-
“The Masala for the best Asian RJ goes to”…my heartbeat was running at an express speed, so loud I could almost hear it. I feared my heart would tear the ribcage!


Stop breathing.

“Lokesh XXL from City 1016”


There was an almost black out. I froze for a moment. I was hell hoping to win the award but unsure if I would. I hugged the team and rushed towards the stage, trying to draft an acceptance speech.
There were no mikes available for winners, hence no acceptance speeches. I was adamant. I asked for the mike. They didn’t have. I insisted. They didn’t budge. I was stubborn and resolved not to leave the stage till I spoke. I had many to THANK. I finally got a mike and this is what I said-

“This is my first year that I have been nominated for Masala! awards in Best RJ category and to win it right in the first year makes it even more special. Since this is popular choice award, a big thanks to the rock star listeners of City 1016. I have been in the industry for almost half my life, gosh that makes me sound so old, err…I started pretty early in life, at 12, err 14! But jokes aside I have worked in a lot of radio stations but never seen such loyal listenership. Thanks to all the listeners who voted for me and made me win this award.

Big thank you to my family; mom, dad, bhai, di. Thanks to my family at work. Somantra, the sales head and his rugby team, his sales team, aggressive and so competent.

Marketing mavericks- Mathew, Arpan, Vivek and Reema, love you all.

And the programming team- MY FAMILY in Dubai- Malu, Sid, Karish, Tia, Ro, Megs, tarun, Olly, Sujit, Govind and Gopika and our very round, very pregnant boss- Fiona. You guys make work so much fun!!
Big thanks to Masala as well. Thanks a lot!!”

I celebrated thanks giving for those two minutes, without realizing thanksgiving had just started. Wishes poured in from all sides, phone buzzed incessantly. I tried handling it all; clicking pics with peers and receiving congratulatory messages and missing a hundred calls in between.

Five minutes later they announced the best TV presenter award- City 1016 RJs for City Dil Se. My joys knew no bound. I jumped like a crazy kid. It was a DOUBLE WHAMMY! Two awards in one night, one for radio and the other for our FIRST ever attempt on TV!

Being on TV was a dream come true, winning an award as the best TV presenter was a cherry on the cake.
I came back home and checked my facebook. 321 messages. I was taken aback. I decided to reply to each and every message and comment and post personally (still AM), in between returning all the calls and replying to all messages that I had missed earlier on. It took me a couple of hours. Before I was about to hit the sack at around 3 am, my phone buzzed again. Neil from Radio 4 called up. The genuineness in his voice, the joy in his wishes was overwhelming.  In the meantime Prince from Radio 4 again had commented and congratulated on my picture on facebook where I flaunted my trophy! An award, a victory had brought the fraternity together. It felt so so SO NICE.

Sleep was not an option that night. The phone buzzed every fifteen minutes even at the wee hours of the morning. And then the calls started coming in. Bhai called up at around 6 in the morning. I was OBVIOUSLY awake. I answered and he had got mom and didi on conference from Delhi. The family wished me and we spoke for good half an hour or so. My brother had never sounded SOOO HAPPY. He spoke with an enthusiasm of a five year old. He wanted to catch a flight or have me catch one and be with the family. He is the sweetest brother ever. I had missed dad and mom like crazy at the award function. Mom could have been there, she could bask in the glory, see her son receive his first award ever. She had always dreamt of it. I so wished she was around.

Also spoke to my bestestest friend Neelu who was more excited than me. She hugged me for an hour on skype!! Neeraj and Mona masi called up too from India. I felt so loved and so special. Paran's (a dear friend) message and his call made my day too.

During the day Meliha a very sweet friend (who now works as a news presenter on Radio Mirchi) called up to congratulate. She spoke through her relentless coughing, all genuinely excited. What she said broke my heart. She said-

“There is no one better Loki who deserves this award but you. I screamed so hard when you won that the nominated RJs at Mirchi gave me that-are-you-rooting-for-us-or-him-stare? You are an amazing person Lokesh and God bless you.” I was driving at that time at 140 on Sheikh Zayed road. The emotions or the speed or both would have killed me. And it will be a perfect death- like Keats says in one of his poems- on a high! Meliha, crushing hugs to you (despite your cold that could pass me all your bugs!)

I spent most of the day attending and personally replying to thousands of messages and comments that came from listeners and friends from all over. Friends I have not spoken to in a donkey’s years touched base to congratulate.

This award MEANS so MUCH to me- a childhood dream come true. I had practiced and given so many speeches in chilly January mornings after watching Oscars. I would go on terrace, hold a broom or something and unabashedly thank the world for my award. Masala! is my Oscars in my field, a pat on my back for the hard work on my show (Yes I am shameless to admit I work damn hard on my show), a reminder of listeners’ love and support and most of all a beautiful REUNION.
Reunion of the family back home on the phone.
Reunion of school/college friends who felt proud at my achievement.
Reunion of thousands who listen in to my show everyday. I don’t call them fan, they are my friends on the other side of the mike who show selfless love and deserve my love right back!
And a heartwarming reunion of radio peers. We might be cut throat competitive but humble enough to applaud at others’ victories.

-Touched and MOST HUMBLED!!  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Creepy Ass Two sentences stories

      Thought of some creepy short stories. Here are a few of them-

       1.  I sensed someone was in the room, either on the couch or in the kitchen. I groped in the darkness, switched on the lights. I didn't see anyone till I asked and suddenly my voice squealed like a woman-
“Who’s there?”


2.       She was born all cute. I breast fed her. She didn't suck. She bit. 


3.  I was stranded on a lonely road at midnight. Tried calling my friends. Damn my phone’s battery had died. And suddenly it rang. 


4. I cried uncontrollably at her funeral. I updated my facebook- RIP Pooja. She was the first one to like it. 

5. She called up to give the sad news …of her demise.


6.  I was at the art gallery, admiring the portrait of Rajeev Gandhi, feeling sad about his brutal assassination and quipped- ‘that must have been painful.’ He frowned back- ‘Very.’


      7. I couldn't find my size in a pile of clothes at 70% sale at a store. I dug my hand into the huge basket of tee shirts, flapped a few around and suddenly found one- a hand passing me on the right size. 
      8. The lift took me to the 54th floor in a building that had 30. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shudh Desi Romance

Been wanting to write about SDR, damn these old lazy complacent bones.
I was excited yet skeptical to watch the film because of a few names.

    a ) Jaidepp Sahni (Chak De India, Khosla ka Ghosla and Rocket Singh fame) {But he had also written Aja Nachle, so I was not very sure. I gave him the benefit of doubt, 3 good films vs 1 bad film, also the big producers must have bullied him to write Aaja Nachle for Madhuri’s comeback.) I was ready to take a chance.

           b) Man’ee’sh Sharma- I hated him initially. On one hormonal day, I travelled from Sharjah to Bur Dubai, spent full hundred dhirams on travel, tickets, cola and popcorn to feast my eyes on Celina Jaitley as she locks lips with Emran Hashmi in Sharma’s (Man’i’sh then) directorial debut- Jawani Deewani, only to see jerkily edited scenes as they were ruthlessly chopped for UAE screening. I could never forgive him for that disaster till he redeemed himself with Band Baja Baraat.
           c) Sushant Singh Rajput- I was curious to know how he fared in his second film, as I always feel the second film is your litmus test.

           d) Parineeti Chopra- her repertoire of films shows how versatile she is really. Gutsy bubbly girl in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, gutsy bubbly girl in Ishaqzade and guess what- gutsy bubbly girl in Shudh Desi Romance. (I am hoping sarcasm is not wasted here on some people.) In her defense she is quite a natural on screen though.

         e) Vani Kapoor- the leggy lass who lavishly locked lips in her debut, damn the edited screening here in the UAE, yet again, showed promise.

Things that work for me.

                a) Concept- It took almost eight years and many a films for the biggest production house in the country,YRF, to learn that there can be live in relationship stories in the heart of our country too.  We don’t have to travel all the way to Australia to have a doctor girl live in with a restaurateur (read Salaam Namaste). It is such a refreshing change to see the story shift its base from the foreign Blue Mountains to our very own Blue city (ok agreed major parts of the film are shot in the Pink City!)

   Not only the characters seem chilled with the live in relationship, the so called small town conservative Indian society too seems to accept it largely. And that is sheer progress for me- Not the concept of live in relationship but not to be judgmental about it, to accept people as they are and not question their sensibilities, their decisions about marriage and sex is a sign of maturity and evolution for me.

And that brings me to the owner of Goyal caterers in the film and the other performances.

            b) Rishi Kapoor- Goyal could be inwardly shocked and in disagreement about the youth’s idea of love but at no point in the film he seems to preach or judge. He is the cute adorable elderly Rajasthani gentleman who is ready to lend a patient ear to the youngsters, hear them out and finally pack in a quite a punch with his advice in some subtle yet sharp witted dialogues- patloon ka paplu bada nachata hain. Rishi Kapoor has finally started acting (Do dooni chaar, Agneepath, D Day) in his second innings. In his first innings he just wore pastel shade sweaters and danced around trees.

            c) Sushant Singh Rajput- Dibakar Banerkee before signing him up for Vyomkesh Bakshi said “he is the only actor to emerge from the latest crop of stars we have.” I concur completely. Someone who has Irrfan Khan and Nawazudin Siddique as his favorites can barely go wrong. Raghu is your typical small town boy, cheeky confident yet unsure and Sushant plays it with conviction and ease.

           d) Parineeti as always is comfortable in front of the camera and plays her part well.
            e) Vani Kapoor – A new actor is usually awkward- (Imran Khan in JTYJN, Ranbir in Sawariyan and Kajol in Bekhudi. It took a DDLJ for her to show her calm, mature side as an actor, in sharp contrast to her rather screaming debut in Bekhudi
New comers are either too chatty/screechy or too shy. Vani is none. She is calm and composed not only in the movie but in her interviews too. She exudes immense confidence for her debut.
             f) Music- It’s almost uncomforting for me to admit I like Sachin Jigar as much as I like Amit Trivedi if not mo re. There you go- I said it! ON RECORD!! I never thought I could like anyone as much as Amit Trivedi but Sachin Jigar have convinced me to fall in love with them all OVER AGAIN! They have been pulling out a new trick with every film they do. If char baj gaye in Faltu was your ‘clubby-let’s-go-on-a-drive-with-friends’ song, Saibo in Shor in the City was in sharp contrast, mellow and melodious. Go Goa Gone was trippy and Shudh Desi Romance is deeply rooted in the sounds of the sands. In a line, I am impressed.

             g) Lyrics- Jaideep Sahni has written amazing songs if not the film (Wait I am coming to bad parts of the film soon!) I enjoyed all the songs and loved the use of the word ‘ati random’ for the rather ‘chanchal mann’ of the youth. Encompasses their dilemma pretty effectively.

Things that didn’t work for me-

a)      Story- it’s an interesting story told unconvincingly. I sense the chemistry between characters and understand how hormones lead to attraction, but I don’t see love. There never was in Shudh Desi Romance. At least I never felt.
b)      Humor is difficult to depict. There are different forms of comedy but I like it the most when it’s subtle and situational. The film abounds with many fun moments but get too repetitive. Things are funny when said once or maybe twice, after that they become a yawn-let-me-grab-popcorn in the meantime moments. (refer to the toilet runaway scenes in the film)
In all the film is fun, half baked emotions, lack of a strong storyline yet passable. The film lives upto its title- Shudh Desi Romance, if not love. Teehee. Choose it over sitting idle at home or mindless shopping at a mall!! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Delhi rape case!

There was a very interesting dialogue in Rang De Basanti that has stayed with me and now in retrospect it does make sense.

A politician’s side kick says in the movie- “logo ki yadasht badi kamzor hoti hain sir.”- “people’s memory is usually short lived.”

I am not too sure if it’s short lived memory or the everyday survival but what once seems like a revolution usually fizzles out in months or sometimes even days. Hence the poor old man Anna Hazare almost famished to death yet failed to turn a leaf in law books and what seemed like a revolution for the Delhi girl who was brutally raped and murdered in December turned out to be quite a phuss.

The truth of the matter is, in an everyday run to earn money and survive, these issues that we strongly feel for, stand for, take the back seat, if not forgotten.

Delhi rape case had shaken me inside out for its sheer barbarism. When the world debated and argued and suggested some rather radical solutions, I stayed mum; not because I didn’t have much to say, but because reaching the root cause of so many rape cases in our country seemed more important. I wanted to listen to every argument, soak in every thought, every word, mull it over and finally share what I feel. Before I come to solutions of the problem, let me discuss what really causes the problem. Shocking as it may sound; it is MONEY or our mindsets that we associate power and superiority with money. Isn’t money really the reason that we serve our rich guests with cashew nuts and almonds in silverwares and a glass of water to the not so wealthy ones?

Now before I elaborate on this, I have a question. How would you react if I told my mother/wife/sister-

“Aapki jagah kitchen mein hain, tum wahi achi lagti ho.”- “Your place is in the kitchen, that’s where you belong!”

One would be quick to judge me as a male chauvinist pig, who looks down upon women and doesn’t respect them.

Wonder how many of you would have the same reaction if I told my father/brother-

“Aap kamate huye hi ache lagte ho, ghar pe naa baitha karo.”- “You look better when you are out, earning. Don’t stay at home.” It will be never be perceived as a sexist comment instead one receives it with pride and honor.

It is sadly the power that comes with money that makes going out and earning far cooler than staying at home and cooking. The person who goes out, earns money is always considered far superior than the one who stays at home. Hence we have conveniently overlooked the importance of women who build a home, run a home and most importantly shape their kids’ lives, make (or could break) the country’s future.

 Right after the Delhi rape case, there were news channels that reported rather quote unquote progressive news of how a woman in Chennai is riding a bike and showing all men that women are no less. How on earth has riding a bike become a symbol of ‘progression’ and ‘equality’? Why does a woman have to ride and bike and show she is equal. Why can’t she be in the kitchen and cook daal chawal and yet be equal?

There were also reports of a bunch of young men in Bangalore who slipped into skirts to show their solidarity to the Delhi rape girl. Are you serious? It is this triviality of the issue that makes my blood boil and how stupidly we belittle the problem at hand.

Over a period of time, men have been the bread earner and women looked after the home. And since we associate so much of importance to money, equate it with power, men by default became the higher species in the relationship.  So women dress like men, ride a bike, take up a job, start earning, talk about gadgets and (excuse me saying this)- do things that are usually considered men like, to show they are equals and are not lagging behind in any way. On the contrary shouldn’t we thank the women in our lives for bringing us up, for feeding us day in and out (including weekends), for running household errands, from bills to laundry to cleanliness, to kids’ homework, to every little thing that helps us go out and earn a livelihood?

I stay with my mom and not even once I think I am doing her a favor or any better than her because I earn. Just like how I think she is not doing me any favor by ironing my clothes or preparing me breakfast, lunch or dinner. These are jobs divided between two individuals to run our lives smoothly. A sense of respect for what the other person does is all we need to strike a balance. Alas the reality is a far different story. Women have to go out, earn and struggle to be EQUALS and men who prefer to stay at home and look after kids are downright pansy/unmanly/gays/losers.

It’s this fuddy-duddy mindset, this conservative thinking that has coined such sexist phrases, such gender biased stereotypes-

-          “Arey tumne kya haath mein chudiya pehan rakhi hain.”

-          “Tu kya ladki ke tarah Sharma raha hain.”

-          “Haathon mein mehndi lagi hain kya?”

Or the worst of all when an old man/woman proudly says- “Humari toh ladki nahi ladka hain!” I feel like slapping such people and telling them to STOP calling your girl a boy; that’s showing NO respect, instead deriding her, ridiculing her.

And because we EARN, bring home bundles of CASH, we become far higher than women who “stay at home and do nothing”. And since we are higher, we can treat these lesser mortals any which way we like. We can stop them in a bus, catch them by the road side, attack a young girl, assault her in the most heinous way, and shove an iron rod up her vagina and leave her by the roadside to die.

Still shaken and seething!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bhag Milkha Bhag review!

Things I like about Bhag Milkha Bhag-

1.       Cinematography- instagramish, monochromatic shots of old Punjab- mesmerizing!

2.       Screenplay- love the juxtaposition of 1960, 1947 and years in between.

3.       Farhan’s expressions, body language

4.       Milkha-Isri (his sister’s) relationship

5.       Pawan Malhotra’s and Divya Dutta’s acting

6.       Sonam’s beauty

7.       Dialogues

8.       Love how Prasoon Joshi has internalized Milkha’s story and hence fictionalized it too!

Things I didn’t like about BMB-

1.       The partition should have been the focus of the film, alas it is not, hence it doesn’t manage to bring out the anguish effectively.

2.       Farhan’s speech- Saying ‘yaara-dildara’ doesn’t make you a Sikh boy. I could hear a South Bombay Farhan in Milkha Singh. (Where Irfan Khan who played an athlete in Paan Singh Tomar was so one with the character!)

3.       The length of the film. Be indulgent for your personal screening, for us, CUT THE DAMN THING SHORT! I could easily cut Sonam Kapoor’s episode, ghee gulping scene, training scenes and much more from the film.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

My 'so called' TV struggle

I am superlative emotional right now. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be on TV. I still remember I must have been four or five. Our landlords in Delhi had a friend who was remotely connected with the film/TV industry. I don’t remember his name. We used to call him Hero uncle. He had once come to our house and suggested I should be on TV. Not because I was a ‘cute’ kid. Far from. Because I guess I was a performer even then. Like all moms pushy, my mom had proudly exhibited my singing, dancing, drawing, painting and all kinds of talents in front of the ‘hero’ uncle and impressed the living daylights out of him.

Sometimes dreams come true when you stop chasing them. After trying at every vague opportunity to romance the camera, I had given up. Not really given up but made peace with it. I am an extremely practical guy. I had set 2010 as my deadline. I had resolved I would give my best till 2010 and let destiny take over post that. And boy I tried very hard. But when nothing materialized, it hurt a bit for sure, ok who I am kidding, it hurt a lot but I decided to move on in life and shifted my base to Dubai and joined a radio station here. In fact a month prior to taking up my job at City 1016 (the radio station I work for in Dubai) I had gone to Mumbai to try for one last time and met people at MTV, Zoom and various other channels. All of them told me to stick around; stay in Mumbai for 6 months and something would come up. It was a gamble and the safest guy in me wasn’t quite ready to play.

So here I was in Dubai, happily shooting my mouth off on radio, dear TV dreams long forgotten, that my radio station runs into a deal with a TV channel and a radio station goes visual. Yep it sneaked up on me when I least expected. It was like running into an old flame, with the same passion.

And now when the first episode will go on air this Saturday, my struggle to be on TV runs in a flash, like a show reel, few of I which I remember so distinctly.

My first audition was at one of the news channels. I was 19 then, in first year of college. I saw a bunch of nervous wrecks at the audition. I walked around like cat whiskers. Cool, calm, composed!! You are most confident in your teens I feel. At least I was. My name was called out. I went into a room where I didn’t see anyone, just heard voices, voices that talked to me and voices that talked to each other. I adjusted the lapel mike on my shirt and looked in between the camera and the auto cue. A voice instructed me then-

“Say something.”

“Something.”  My baritone voice boomed.

“Hahahaha..funny!! No as in give your levels.” The voice said. I also heard a faint female voice whisper in the background- ‘he is funny, cute and sounds so hot!’ That boosted my confidence. The rest of it was easy as a cake. I was confident I had cracked it. Alas! It was against company’s policies to take under graduates.

Then there were auditions at DD sports for a show called ‘Crossing the line’. I shot a couple of episodes, mouthing tongue twister of names that I neither could understand, nor phonetically articulate. I was paid a handsome amount. For the next three weeks DD sports had the highest TRP; the only time that had any TRPs. My friends and family assiduously watched it every evening sharp at 8, with cola, popcorn everything arranged. The episodes were never aired. 

And then there was this audition in the interiors of UP, a small village off ‘Noida.’ The word is ‘ghetto’. I was working for a radio station then, got a call from someone who told me a news channel in UP was hiring. I didn’t have a vehicle then. I took the metro, got down at the station and hailed an auto. The rickety rickshaw ride had me at the mouth of a filthy, narrow lane. The autowala refused to go in, so I walked, tip toeing around cow dung, slush and general rubbish. A stray dog stretched in the distance and a stay cow looked at me curiously. I reached the end of the lane, outside a dilapidated building, about to crumble any moment. It was more like a house, with a verandah that had a rusted iron gate that creaked the moment I pushed it. Three cycles and two scooters were parked in the porch and a cooler grumbled in one corner. A man sat at the table chair planted in the middle of the verandah. A table fan pretended to run. He looked up and shoved a register in my face. Before I could ask anything, he mumbled through his pan chewing teeth and drool –

“Fill up your details in the register and take the stairs for the audition room.”

The audition room was dark and dingy. A tube light hung loose on the wall. It flickered aching to come to life. There were ten to twelve odd people waiting for their turn. A man came and handed me the daily newspaper. He said like he had by hearted the line-

“Read the headlines, prepare your news and you have exactly 20 minutes.”

I saw a man with a hand held camera in the corner of the room. He shot all the candidates. I wondered if it was for real.  I didn’t judge. I auditioned. The results came almost instantly. Not at the cost of sounding too brash, I was the best they had auditioned in a million. They told me I would read the morning bulletin for a local cable news channel in Ghaziabad and be paid 15 thousand rupees every month. The funniest bit was that they said it with a sense of arrogance, like doing me a favor. It was a choice between my awesome job at radio that paid me five times more or reading news on ‘Tez news’, badlav ki lehar. It didn’t take me a second to decide. I looked at their smug, haughty faces and humbly declined the offer. Their jaws kissed the floor and I kissed another TV opportunity good bye.  

Once I had even travelled the lengths and breaths of Delhi to land in some godforsaken place in some remote part of Gurgaon. It took me 2 bus rides, one sharing cab, one cycle rickshaw ride and two hours to reach that place. The production house was in the basement of a house. I had no idea what shows they produced. Clueless I walked in and met the person concerned. He gave me a three page print out, asked me to get the gist of it.

“No worries, say it in your own words. We believe in being natural, so don’t be afraid, you can improvise.” He winked at me. Except how much could you really extemporize while explaining the functions of a Photostat machine? The script gave me a headache. “Electrograph, semi conductor, high voltage wire…” my head span! Yet I didn’t give up. I badly wanted to be on TV, even if it meant explaining how a photocopier worked on a channel called TOPPER. Dah!

Then there were some serious auditions at serious entertainment channels that very seriously rejected me.

Like NDTV good times.

I was doing the breakfast show on a popular radio station. I was quite a name to reckon with in the industry. Fuck that came out pretty immodest. I once spoke to the head of programming at NDTV good times and she asked me to come and audition.

It was a Saturday. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I went up on the terrace and practiced my lines, rehearsed for a couple of shows; bollywood, lifestyle. I didn’t sleep a wink. I left for my radio show at 5 with a stupid grin on my face, thinking how I was just a few hours away from living my dream. I was very hopeful. After finishing my day at work, I reached NDTV’s office in Okhla sharp at 12. The office was almost empty. They had a five day week. I already loved ‘my’ new company. The Nepali officer at the reception asked me to wait for 5 minutes. No one attended me for almost 45 minutes. I called the Programming head up and finally a girl in typical NDTV attire; striped kurta, jeans, black rimmed glasses and floaters appeared from the glass door.

“Today is a bad day. The auditions can’t happen.” She was rude and distant. I could almost hear her say-

I hate this office, had a date with my boyfriend today, my boss is an arse and I have to work on a fucking Saturday…go hide your I-want-to-be-on-TV-face somewhere.

I was not ready to give up so easily. I hadn’t prepared all night long and travel to the other side of the world to hear this. She asked me to wait. And so I did. For EIGHT long hours.

Every half an hour I was told how they had only two camera people that day, one of them had fallen ill, and the other one had gone to shoot Deepika Padukone at the Oberoi hotel. The rude girl suggested me to go back at regular intervals but I didn’t budge. She finally melted and gave me a computer to surf on and a cup of tea. I youtubed songs, checked my mails, chatted with friends and whiled away my time.

I was sleepy, droopy and all things fatigued. I went on the terrace of their office, drank in the Okhla greenery and repeatedly practiced my script.

The camera man finally arrived. At EIGHT FUCKING PM. He was more pissed than the rude girl. My auditions meant more work for him on the weekend. He looked at the rude-girl-who-finally-melted and said-

“This (my audition) wasn’t even scheduled.”

Fuck it was. Talk to your fucking programming head, you retards. If there is someone who should flip his lid, it should be me, you grumblers. I thought.

“I told him to postpone.” She defended pointing towards me.

He looked at me from tip to toe, like most Delhiites do, gave me a disapproving look and almost sniggered. I didn’t react. He took ten minutes to set the frame and I was asked to shoot.

In that domineering, so oppressive air, fighting those patronizing smirks, I auditioned. Barring a few fumbles, I did pretty well. Three days later I heard the politest no in so many words-

“We are looking for a more mature face; you know that’s what ‘Good times’ is all about. You have a face for MTV or a Channel V, very young, very college. You would make a perfect fit there. We are sorry.”

Ironically three months later I went to audition for NDTV Good times’ youth show called Cool Q and they didn’t even let me test because I was 26 and the age cut off was only 25. And the TV dream eluded me one more time.

And then there was my visit to Mumbai when I met people at Zoom. Before flying to Mumbai, I spoke to their head called Vishnu. He is a thorough gentleman, a professional except he doesn’t easily answer his phone. But he would treat you like human beings and speak to you politely. He had set a date for me when I could go and audition. Also he had asked me to carry a show reel for uncalled for circumstances. So I landed at Zoom’s office in Mumbai. Vishnu had to rush for a meeting so he fixed my meeting with a chick called Roma who could redefine ‘being late’. If she was a period, no one would ever pregnant. She reported to work hours later I had reached their office, with NO APOLOGIES. She met the likes of me on a daily basis and tried her best to avert the audition.

“The studio is not available today.” She informed.

I gave her my show reel on a pen drive that she tried transferring on her computer but in vain. Some format incompatibility or some technical glitch that was beyond me. She asked me to reshoot myself and drop the CD. She was mad. She didn’t know what she was saying. She expected me to hire a studio, a camera person, and a camera, prepare a script, shoot the video, edit it and burn it on a CD and drop it at their office all in span of 2 hours.

I called Vishnu up. Ofcourse he didn’t answer. I tried frantically and pretty pointlessly too. Droopy shouldered I walked out. I had no clue what to do. I hit the Lower Parel market for some help, went to the Kodak photo studios, and asked them if they could burn my show reel on a CD but the file had gone corrupt. So Roma wasn’t really bullshitting. That meant a reshoot. HOW ON EARTH? I checked my bag and fished out my tourist camera. Not a professional one, but what the heck? It was time for some adventure

I kid you not. I actually explored the market area for a quiet spot in some corner. I actually stopped random people, people who were getting late to work/college/class/meeting to hold the camera and shoot me. Most of them declined. A couple of them who indulged me were so bad that it almost cracked me up; tight close ups, tilted shots, shaky shots, you name it and I had it. Finally a young college lad showed enthusiasm and we shot against a building under construction. It was a superb frame. Except we had to shoot a thousand times, every time a BEST bus honked by or a stray dog decided to bark or a nearby temple bells went berserk. And mind you I didn’t have the luxury of an edit, so I had to shoot everything in ONE GO!

After almost three hours, I finally had my show reel ready. I went to the same KODAK studio and got it burnt on a CD and made many copies. Right then my phone buzzed. It was Vishnu. He returned the call. I told him how Roma was acting pricey and said the studio wasn’t available for the audition. He lost it. He said he would get back in 5 and so he did with the good news- the studio was ready. I had to report in half an hour for my auditions. Dah. SO MUCH FOR MAKING A NEW SHOW REEL!!!

I auditioned and two weeks later I flew to goldener pastures- Dubai. I would like to believe they liked my auditions, called me up on my deactivated Delhi number and never got through. And yes I am very conveniently ruling out the possibility of tracing me down on facebook or gmail. I would rather believe I was way too good for them. Actually it doesn’t even matter now. It was never meant to happen then.

What matters NOW is my first TV show, my segment- The DVD store where I talk about movies, 13 movies that I watched, observed, made notes, researched and now tell you why you should watch them on a DVD if you missed it on the big screen.

All my life, I had shared my TV dreams with most of the people I got in touch with, thinking if I put it out in the universe it would come back to me. It has, now, so beautifully. Like the famous poem goes-

Success is counted sweetest
By those who never succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need!

Friday, February 15, 2013


I am almost scared to admit that I have been dubaized. Today one of my school friends asked me if I had any plans to shift back in India and my instant reply was ‘no’. Dubai has spoiled me. No matter how much I long for Delhi street food, friends, family and romanticize my country’s potholes, filth even mosquitoes, deep down I know I like Dubai, I love the place. It’s cleaner, less chaotic and far more convenient. I complain a lot about Dubai’s flaws, lack of street food, lack of culture, intellectual stimulation and blah blah…but what it has offered me in last three years can’t go unnoticed. In Delhi I was just a voice in the background. I was never spotted on the roads. I was anonymous and honestly I liked it that way. Despite some fifty odd hoardings that went up on Delhi roads, screaming loud and clear to catch my new show on a local radio station, I didn’t have anyone come up to me and say…’hey you are RJ Lokesh right?’ ok it happened twice, maybe thrice…but in a span of 3 years of being on air in Delhi. In Dubai the score is thrice practically every day. Not at the cost of sounding too narcissist, it’s flattering when people spot you on the road or give you that –I-have-seen-you-somewhere smile/look. It doesn’t happen with RJs for sure. Dubai has made that happen for me. And then there is my car. I am not a car person, I admit. I could be bloody well driving a Toyota or Civic or a Lamborghini, I promise I couldn’t care less. I am more of a passenger than a driver. I would anyday be driven around than be asked to play the designated driver. Yet I bought one of the costliest, fanciest cars in the market- Audi A5, convertible. And I admit, every time the top goes down and the speedometer hits 100 in the third second, my heart misses a beat and swells with pride. No I am not saying, the car makes anyone look cool. I admit it’s always the other way round. Yet it feels great (even if it means momentary) to own such hot wheels and a even hotter body!! The always air conditioned indoors, the malls that spoil you with choice, the varieties, that familiar look by the hot chick walking down the road, that young lady who spots me in Meena Bazar and excitedly asks for a quick pic, the every weekend shopping, the cupboards packed with clothes and shoes, the lazing around in my house’s balcony that looks over the ocean, the comforts…yes the material pursuits, the perishable comforts have made me fall in love with the city! Fuck how shallow I could be, I wonder!