Associate Senior Producer –
Our readers would like to know about your academic achievements in the field of journalism.
I have completed my graduation in the field of Journalism and Mass Communication from VIPS, affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi, and have also taken up a certificate course in Film Appreciation from FTII Pune, went for a PG Diploma in International Human Rights with Masters in Human Psychology.
Why did you want to be a media professional?
To just follow my heart, as I was always very good at debates, speeches, and most of the extra curriculum acts in school, somewhere I knew that my communication skills were going to be my asset and at that time, honestly, without knowing much about this field, I just decided that this could be one profession where you can speak your heart out, without any fear, and you are kind of unstoppable. So, I decided that I will be a journalist at the age of 14, and there I knew there would be lows and highs in this profession, but thankfully I could do what I aspired for.
Please tell us your success story from your initial journey as a journalist to being an associate senior producer of Aaj Tak Digital.
Well, this is the 19th year of my journey, so if look back its a plethora of so many colours to be counted as memories, I started as an intern, had my stint in All India Radio and The Statesman, and then I joined Sahara Samay and it was wonderful as this place made me learn the very basics and practical aspects of journalism. I realized, that what I learnt theoretically actually stands nowhere, you have to learn and put everything in action beyond definitions. I used to do scripting for international stories, and all other kinds of news, which made my concept about TV scripts very clear and solid; then I started outdoor reporting, so I was lucky that along with many other opportunities, I got a chance to interview Mr Amitabh Bachchan merely at the age of 23. I was the youngest to interview him for a good half an hour at late Shri Amar Singh’s place and so I had this special love for cinema. I covered many International Film Festivals and met almost every respected name of Indian cinema and many times global ones as well, but that was the time when you had the content respected and valued.
The seriousness of reporting and anchoring was at another level, that was the golden phase, and I am happy that I could cherish and be a part of that period. 16 to 18 hours of reporting, mega shows, outdoor programmes, interviews, studio programmes, and daily news bulletins. So, Sahara taught me everything and gave me an excellent platform to excel in my skills, and I left Sahara as the special correspondent and senior anchor and then joined Aaj Tak. The journey has been very long, and I am very happy and thankful to the Almighty that it has been non-stop without any break. I have been working for continuous 18 years and a few months now and going on, not a single day’s work gap.
What are the challenges and priorities as a senior producer of Aaj Tak Digital?
It is a shift from TV news that I had been doing for the past 17 years to digital, it’s fresh, new, and yes cool indeed. It has a different treatment to news as your target audience is different, and digital is constantly adapting to the changes, so I am happy that I am a part of this huge transition in media, as we know that the future is digital. Here everything has to be very crisp, focused, and yes instant! So, the selection of stories, sense of scripting and presenting it on camera as an anchor is also very different, here I can be more casual, comfortable, and straight in my expressions as an anchor. It took me a while but gradually I am finding this very interesting, and I also feel that my excessive outdoor reporting has helped me in adapting to this form of anchoring on the digital platform as I know the skill of instant scripting and putting it together for the camera. I feel for anything your basics should be very clear.
In the present scenario, most of the media houses are working as PR agencies. They tend to ignore the values of real journalism. What is your opinion regarding this?
It’s not in the present scenario, I think having a particular bent of mind or an inclination has always been there. Maybe the people who are complaining today were on the other side of the table sometimes back, so it’s always there. And now media is an expensive business, you need huge money to keep the ball rolling, and I do not think that real journalism is ignored as everything is reported. It’s up to people who are watching to perceive it or cross-check before reacting.
I believe now with the extensive use of social media, you possibly cannonade anything, so eventually, everything will come out and will be reported. And you can be in favour of or against something or someone, but come what may, you can never question your country, or its integrity. If you do, then it is agenda, not journalism at all.
I have been a part of many social and philanthropic groups and organisations, as I always love to volunteer my services to a greater cause. It gives you a different feeling altogether of self-satisfaction, but there is still more that I want to do for society, and I wish I could do this.
How do you manage media work and family responsibilities simultaneously?
To be honest, it’s not very easy to manage, but luckily my husband Mr Dinesh Gautam is also from the same industry and a leading journalist and my father and mother-in-law are also very understanding and motivating. So things are comparatively supportive, but then time constraint is a factor, and being a mother, I don’t feel like leaving my son and travelling much. I think a working mother, however, accomplished she gets. There is a hidden sense of guilt when you are not able to spend enough time with your kid. So I also have that but then I always feel that a child seeing his mother doing something which is reputed socially and making her a strong woman has a better and clear understanding of many things. Therefore, a woman in the house, a homemaker or a working professional must be strong, respected, and have a voice.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
To never stop! After seeing a lot, and going through some really difficult mental and emotional phases after my father’s demise and some other health issues, I never stopped. There is no work gap in my career, and for that, I thank the Almighty, my family, and all who helped me to remain constant.
The rest of the achievements, like interviewing topmost names, and covering international events or some big shows is way too secondary, I think the biggest achievement always is to keep going, no matter what we have been through!
How would you like to define women empowerment concerning female media professionals? What is the role of female media professionals in the field of journalism in the present scenario?
Women’s Empowerment is when you are supported by another woman without a sense of insecurity. It’s about being able to stand and speak for yourself on any platform. It’s about knowing your worth. In the media, it is good to see that more and more women are doing well, but still, not many women are seen in top management positions and that makes question your self-worth. But when as a woman you dive deep, it is shocking to discover that mostly, a woman only becomes a barrier to other woman’s success. It is brutal to accept but it is the biggest fact and the biggest reason that women fail to achieve major milestones. Hence, I believe that a truly empowered woman will always look to support other women. When that very feminine energy of yours becomes a centre of insecurity & vindictiveness for another woman then the entire concept of women empowerment is defeated, rather ends there.
In your career, who supported you the most?
God, my willpower, and blessings of my late father Mr Suresh Kapoor, who let me do everything so that I could be one of the strongest people. My mother Smt Santosh Kapoor, who has always loved me the most in the world. My husband Shri Dinesh Gautam for everything. My father-in-law Shri N.P. Gautam who is always an inspiration and my mother-in-law Smt Gomati Gautam for her love.
My entire family, friends, and yes all those people who at different points became an inspiration and my support system. For all of them, I keep praying to the Almighty that they all should be safe, happy, and blessed. Eventually, you are a total of energies that you have from the people around you. So that way, I am blessed I have a very strong source of energy in all the people I have in my life.
In the field of creativity and journalism, there is certain criticism too. What has been your experience? How do you deal with this?
I think it’s in every field, every work, as the most effortless thing to do in the whole world is to criticise. To be very honest it never bothered me.
I always knew very well where I had to change something for the betterment. And people who wanted me to do better always made very clear communication but not just criticism. I never stopped learning and working on myself, but I never paid any attention to any criticism coming from the people who have this as the only business to do. Your well-wishers would always carve you out but never let your confidence down. You have to differentiate between the intentions and always make yourself very strong that way.
Who inspired you the most in life?
I think my grandmother, the late Smt Gyandevi Kapoor, as it’s phenomenal to see that a lady who was not formally educated, couldn’t write properly but was so good at reading all the possible religious and spiritual books because of her willpower and had wonderful sense of dealing with every situation. She was the strongest and most sought-after opinion leader in the entire family and society I grew up. Her sense of carrying herself with so much grace and confidence left a very deep impact on me. Though I lost her when I was hardly 10 years old, her personality always had a very deep impact on me. Secondly, my Swami Shri Gurusharnanandji – he made me in totality a person of strong virtues and a seeker of the higher self.
Please tell us about the proudest moment of your life.
When I was awarded as the best student in class 5th and then 12th. Seeing my grandparents’ and parents’ reaction left me with a feeling that I never forgot in my life afterwards. And then there were many awards, professional achievements, and social recognitions, but those moments are carved on my soul as I could see unbelievable happiness in their eyes. When your family feels that sense of pride, life is full of fulfilment and by God’s grace, it’s an ongoing phase all due to their blessings.