AN INTERVIEW WITH GITIKKA GANJU DHAR
Tell us about your journey as a leading corporate anchor.
It is an impression that is largely wrong, that my journey has focused only on corporate events. There was a phase, a few years, when I chose to focus on them, but on my journey as a live host, I have executed all genres of events. The early years, were my learning ground. As a beginner, one had to be versatile. The base of the pyramid could not have been narrow, if one had to increase volumes at work, which in turn resulted in more work. Whether, film premiere events, channel partner meets, music concerts, fashion shows, corporate launches, government events, life-style events, family day events, promotions, celebration galas, award ceremonies, I have worked on them all! The pyramid narrows down when you rise up the ladder. This happens more due to the industry's perception of you, rather than your capabilities as an artist. They do tend to mix one's personality in real life, to what they assume one can or cannot do, on stage. My journey as an anchor has spanned twenty years. I have executed thousands of events all across the globe. I have taken two long breaks from work to settle down and start a family & then have made two very challenging comebacks. There is one thing I have realised. All you need to do is to do your job well, be professional & stay fit. The Indian event industry responds well to talent & skill and respects it. I am very fortunate that things turned out well for me, considering we were always told that the shelf-life of a female anchor is all but a few years. Well, I think, somewhere that assumption stands challenged now. It has been two years into my new innings, and I truly feel that my time is now.
You have also done a lot of work on TV. Please share your experience with us.
I anchored more than twenty odd shows on television before 2009. I took a voluntary break from television when my daughter was born. She is now five years old, and I am rearing to go. I am now based in Mumbai, this is where the action is, let's see how it goes. It is really sad that social media was not as active as it is now. I have but a few records of the same. I can recall shooting for shows such as Zaike Ka Safar for Zee TV, Meri Saheli for Star, Chitrahaar for DD National, Saturday Suspense for Sony & many more.
We know you are called the 'Thinking Man's Anchor'. How does it feel to get such a sassy title?
"Thinking person's anchor", aha! Well, it is good and bad both. I laugh over it and say, yes, I do think a lot before executing an event. But on a serious note, it reiterates the fact that I can be entrusted with content driven events. But, sometimes, clients tend to think that I may not want to execute fun stuff, which is not true. I look forward to unwinding on a lighter, fun event after a string of very serious ones. All in all, I guess it is a great differentiator! I am not complaining.
Have you had any formal training in acting, presenting, public-speaking etc? Do you think it is important?
Not at all. I completed my post-graduation from The Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia in Mass Communication. The exposure to different media was a good thing, so I never felt awed by it. Also, I was a Bharatnatyam dancer, so stage was not really a new place to be. My first job was the launch of a Honda car, so you see I learnt discipline, exaction in delivery & striving for perfection from one of the most professional corporate clients ever. Also, I must add here, that the phase I learnt the most during was the time I was making a comeback. I learnt on the job, yes, but I also unlearnt a lot of the teachings of the past decade. In 2012, when I decided to begin my trek back, the environment had completely changed. I had to evolve every aspect of my job afresh and learnt from anyone and everyone who had something new to share. Social media was an elephant in the room one could no more ignore. I decided to flow with the times and accept this fact.
How do you keep yourself so fit and glowing? Tell us your secret.
Firstly, thanks for saying that I am fit and that I glow. You are being too kind. I am a vegan, a teetotaller and a vegetarian. I guess that helps a bit. I practice Yoga. I eat at home as often as I can and I eat very simple food. I do intend to start jogging soon, how soon, let me see! Physical appearance has become very important, actually, more important than it should be! A lot of good talent has to struggle to establish their work, only because their appearance does not subscribe to the stereotype of tall, slim & hot! I feel it is entirely the industry's loss.
A lot of people want to be in your shoes. What would your advice be to them?
I am flattered that people want to be in my shoes. I prefer wearing flats, if you get the drift. But on a serious note, I have always responded to a colleague's request for a chat, and will continue to do so. I owe this to the industry that has given me in ample. Who am I to give advice to anyone, all I can do is share with them what I have learnt. All I know is to work hard and work honestly. To keep your feet firmly on the ground and never compromise on your dignity as a woman. It also pays in the long run if you are known to be a pro-crew artist. I believe the only irreplaceable star in the country is Salman Khan, and even he does not throw tantrums. It is also very important to understand the economics of the business, the lows and the highs and vary your fees accordingly. Your standing as an anchor does not depend on the fee you demand, it depends on the respect your work garners.
Can anchoring / presenting be a full-time career? What are the opportunities?
Yes, it can and is a full-time career. You just have to be very good at what you do to sustain beyond a few years. One can host for television, host events, and host for programming online. There are periods in the year when business is very low, so if you are the bread winner of the family, another source of income would help.
What do you think of talentrack as a platform?
talentrack is an idea by Vineet, so I am eagerly waiting for it to infold. I bet he has an ace up his sleeve again. It is an idea whose time has come. It will change the game for artist managers completely. I see it as a much needed pro-artist move.