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!!