I was reading somewhere that you have an engineering background. isIshat true?
Yes, that is true.
So how did this switch from engineering to television happen?
I somehow deep down in my heart wanted to be on stage. I wanted to be in front of the camera. So, throughout my engineering also and throughout my student life, I have always been on stage, been very creative, but I never really knew whether I would make it a career. I never had the guts to make it into a career; I could never see it as a vision. I did my engineering well, I topped the University and then got selected in an American firm, but in the interim, I used to work as a Radio Jockey with Radio Mirchi in Pune. Later, while I was working for this firm, I was also working for a local TV channel on Saturdays and Sundays. After one and a half years of realized that this is not how I wanted to live. It was making me unhappy.
When was it that you finally decided to quit your job?
Luckily enough, one person who had seen me perform during my college days suggested that I should try anchoring for a Cricket league. I auditioned there and got rejected. After that, I planned to do an MBA from Harvard, and just as I was about to press that button to send the fee, I decided to give it another try. I went there and auditioned once again, and I was finally selected.
Being a sports presenter and being an expert in a sport can be two different things. So, are you also an expert, or are you still learning?
I am still learning. I know better about basketball, but I am still learning. It is difficult to become an expert unless you have played the sport. I think the learning process is going to be life-long.
Who was the first big star with whom you had that one to one conversation, a big sports star?
Interestingly the most prominent star who I interviewed in the early days of my career was Shahrukh Khan. The first sportspersons were Sardar Singh and Amardeep Singh, stars of Hockey.
You have been in different sports like Cricket, Hockey, Basketball. Which one do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the NBA because I've been doing it for three seasons. I know the game thoroughly. Actually, the thing about sports is, it is difficult not to enjoy once you're in. It is full of action, drama. It is like choosing the best child. Every sport when I do it, I love it.
Which one do you prefer, studio or the field?
I prefer being on the field. I like to see the action as closely as possible.
What opportunities do you see for women as sports journalists? Are there ample opportunities? What are the challenges?
There are plenty of opportunities if you are prepared. Sports is not just about looking pretty; it is about knowing the game as well. You might get your first break because you are pretty, but you won't be able to sustain it if you don't see the sport. There are ample opportunities for women because there are not too many women out there in India who know the sport, be it Hockey, Kabaddi, Football or Cricket. If they see the sport, they don't have the combination of being camera friendly. So if you have these check-boxes ticked, there is ample opportunity out there.
Who was your inspiration while you were taking up sports? Who did you look up to?
Well, in India, for sure, Mayanti Langer. She has been there for a while, and she knows how to deliver a Sport, her presence on camera is terrific and she is a perfect human being. So yes, Mayanti Langer!
We are also seeing women coming and taking up sports in different countries now. We have Zainab Abbas in Pakistan and Diva Patang in Afghanistan. How do you see this development?
It is an excellent time for women in the world of sports, not only in India. Countries like America and Australia already had many women who made their mark as sports presenters and Journalists. They have justified role by knowing the sport, having camaraderie with the players, delivering the sport, being up to date with the changes that are taking place, unlike in India where you come to be an actress and end up being a sports presenter, by which I don't mean that if your acting as well as presenting you are not serious about it. But this is a change which is now coming to the subcontinent. Women are not taking sports in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan passionately.
What suggestions do you have for people like us who are aspiring to make their mark in sports, not just as presenters but also maybe, as content writers and people who understand Sports?
I am glad you brought it up. We don't just have opportunities for women to be presenters but also ample opportunities for women to become as you mentioned, content writers, producers, and so on. My first producer for the NBA was a lady, and she knew the sport well. In cricket, I worked with a girl called Meghna Bhat. So for young women who are aspiring to be associated with games in whatever department, I should tell you that they have made the best decision for their career because it is a very bright career, a fascinating one, and a very demanding career. If you are willing to be as hardworking and passionate about your job, then you have landed and made the right decision for yourself. Coming to working on your skillset, this is a very dynamic field; one lousy day might get you two steps down. You have to be right every single day to sustain and to grow.