In the Spotlight – Yashvi Dhal

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Yashvi Dhal, the founder of Mad Batter, spilling the beans on her tryst with baking and the triumphs and travails of running a business. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey – what inspired you to start your own baking business?

I’ve baked my entire life and it wasn’t something I was always spectacular at, but I loved it. I love the idea that the same staple ingredients can turn into drastically different flavours and textures.  Turning it into the business that it is today happened by accident. I love to bake what I love to eat. And I love Cheesecake! I found myself drawing a blank one night when I was looking to get a slice of a classic New York Style cheesecake, so I took it upon myself to make my age-old family recipe. The leftovers were then sent across to friends and family. That’s how Mad Batter started.

How has Social Media helped you in building your brand and connecting with your audience?

The way I look at it is, the ability to create content, communicate and engage with your audience is the most personal through social media. I have built Mad Batter and connected with its core audience almost entirely through Instagram and Facebook. These platforms have essentially allowed me to reach the right people, and cater to them with the right content and communication. It has allowed me to build a long-term customer base and some great friends as well.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced during the pandemic? How have you tried to deal with it?

Challenges came at us in 2 forms: logistical and a change in customer preferences.

  • Logistical challenges in times like this were bound to happen, but just thinking about the number of cakes that I almost thought won’t be delivered in one piece makes me shudder. However, third party services are stepping up their game and with a few minor changes in my packaging and advancements with delivery logistics, we’ve been able to handle most of these concerns.
  • The bigger shift for me was the change in customer preferences. Parties were now smaller, birthdays were not as grand and people wanted to order everything on the menu, but smaller. For a brand that only does big cheesecakes and abstract cakes, this was a challenge. After months of trial, we officially launched petite cheesecakes. These addressed all the preferential changes that our customers were looking for. Currently, we send out more petite cheesecakes than any other cake.

If there’s one bake that best describes your journey, what would it be and why?

It would have to be a Burnt Basque Cheesecake. I had to put in the hours and things didn’t always look good, but it’s just like the inside of a burnt basque right now– smooth.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Makeup! I am a makeup artist and I feel like one passion drives the other. A lot of my planning with my abstract cakes takes learnings from my time as a makeup artist – colour theory, textures, everything!

If you could binge on one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A classic NY Style Cheesecake or a Traditional Tiramisu!

If the Mad Batter were to host a ‘Mad Tea Party’ (once this pandemic is in the past, of course!) what would be on the menu and who would be invited?

We’ll have a large spread of our Petites (all 14 flavours, so there’s something for everyone) and definitely some Banana Bread and Cinnamon Streusel! I’d like to have my first ‘Mad Tea Party’ with my loyal customers. For someone to trust me for their special occasions has always been an honour to me. For the second party, I’d call my friends and family from across the globe so they can finally taste what they’ve had to hear about for years.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why?

I like to find accounts that truly inspire me to work on my technique and think differently. I also love following accounts that teach me a thing or two about business and how to do it right.

Since people are in lockdown now, could you share one easy-to-bake recipe for everyone to try at home?

The easiest recipe for a quick cheesecake – no crust, intentionally burnt.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Instagram – to see what’s on the menu, enquire and also find out what we’re up to in the kitchen daily.

Whatsapp to place orders or book a consultation for our abstract cakes.

In the Spotlight- Virali Parekh

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Virali Parekh, an ace choreographer, dance educator and performing artist. She speaks about the nuances of the art, her experience of working with leading choreographers and reinventing ways to connect with the audience during these challenging times. Read to know her story.

Tell us about your journey; how did you get introduced to dance? 

I think I was born into dancing. It was as natural as taking the first steps as a baby for me, so I can’t truly say how I got introduced to it. However, professional dance training came to me very late at the age of 20. As a child, I trained in Bharatnatyam, but after 10th grade, I was discouraged from dancing entirely. Studies took over and only after graduation did, I find my way into professional training at The Danceworx Performing Arts Company, and later I moved to Broadway Dance Center, New York, for further training. I got back in 2016, and since then I have been a part of the choreography teams for several reality shows, music videos, Bollywood songs, etc. along with setting up an online/offline training module with my team.

How would you describe your venture, Dance With Vira

In 2020, our industry took a massive hit and while we locked ourselves up, I knew something had to be done to lift each other’s spirits. I danced in my little room and wondered if I could somehow connect to people to share this energy with. Online platforms did exactly that for us. “Dance with Vira” is an online program that was aimed to motivate people to keep dancing and training at home. When you visit our website, you’d notice that it says, “Move to nurture yourself.” This was a very specific goal-driven program aimed to help people get themselves up during these tough times, using dance/movement as a medium. Initially, it was very tough for me to help or teach through a screen and not be there to correct the body form or structure of the student, but in time, we adapted, and it has been a blessing for me in every way after that. My team and I have bonded with people across cities and countries and managed to share our smiles and anxiety through screens. It has been a beautiful experience so far. I aim to continue this program in the coming months, making it bigger and better in every way possible. For more information, please visit www.dancewithvira.com 

What inspires you as an artiste? 

Inspiration for me ranges from day to day activities like cooking, cleaning, etc. to travelling and sitting on a beach alone listening to the ocean waves. It can come from a life experience, a pet, a stranger, someone’s artwork, a friend’s success story, but majorly inspiration to move specifically comes from music for me. 

Share a story behind your most memorable performance. 

It’s definitely going to be the Global citizen festival, 2015, held at Central Park, New York City. Backstage was not like any regular show backstage. We were in celebrity tents as we watched people like Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Obama, Usher, Malala, etc. in action on stage and prepping backstage too. It was once in a lifetime kind of a stage for me to perform on as I witnessed more than 20,000 people in front of me and I’ll always cherish that moment of rush and excitement. It was overwhelming to dance to an Indian song and watch the crowd go mad about it there. I’ll truly never forget it and I hope I get to travel and dance more and more.

If you could pursue only one dance form for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why? 

Jazz funk for life! It requires the discipline of Jazz training but also has this space to incorporate elements of street styles which makes it super fun, unique and relatable to me.

Who’s the one artiste you can’t wait to collaborate with? 

Ummm…. Beyonce! (always aim high :p)

As a choreographer, what’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

Last year, I got an opportunity to be a part of the choreography teams of one of the leading choreographers of the Bollywood Industry, Vaibhavi Merchant. So far, that has been the most exciting project for me to learn from and work on. It’s a Holi song for an upcoming movie with Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chillar. The sheer grandeur of the set, the amount of hard work of every member there, 3 continuous shoot days in extreme heat with colours flying all over and more than 600 people in the song, it was truly the most exciting and challenging shoot for me so far. Most of my excitement, of course, comes from the fact that I got to observe how she thinks and works on movement. It opened my mind up back then.

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list. 

Travel to the Maldives before it sinks, lol

Play lead in a HUGE commercial music video at least once in my life

To have my own space for artists to meet, jam and create all kinds of art, music, dance, drama, etc

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

I am not a hardcore follower of one particular account, but for dance, I follow Erica Klein, Jojo Gomez and Rukmini Vijayakumar. They have some brilliant work showcased out there and in some ways, it becomes a learning tool for me.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Instagram handle: @virali_parekh

Or 

www.dancewithvira.com 

[email protected]

In the Spotlight- Mansi Shah

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Mansi Shah, a nature lover by heart who chose to make a difference. With her venture GiftGreen, Mansi turned her passion into a career, creating eco-friendly, low waste products to encourage a greener way of living. Read to know her story.

Tell us about yourself— what inspired you to start your own business? 

I am a person who loves being outdoors. Having spent a lot of time in a boarding school, I have stayed amidst nature for some years. While finishing my master’s and then working for a short period of time, I started realising that I can’t just love nature and admire it, I have to do something for it by working on it full time. My mother was a great inspiration. The way she grew plants at home with so much love and would gift them on special occasions to friends and family and live a low-waste lifestyle was what inspired me to do this seriously. That’s when GiftGreen came into action.

What’s the story behind your venture, GiftGreen?

GiftGreen was started to make alternatives for festivals. We don’t realise the damage we do to nature while we enjoy our festivals. We first started with selling plants in terracotta pots with personalised messages on birthdays and anniversaries. I started making soil and seed modaks for Ganpati at home. During Independence day, I worked on plantable paper to make the Indian flag which had a motto “Don’t throw me, Grow me.” We then slowly had a team of 3-4 people making rangolis for Diwali which can be grown into plants. After 4.5 years, we have a range of personal care items, low waste lifestyle items for anyone looking for alternatives.

What role does Social Media play in helping you build your brand and reach your audience? 

Social Media has played an important role. Before making our Instagram and Facebook page, it was only through word of mouth that GiftGreen was known.  But social media helped us reach a wider range of audience and age groups.

What is your favourite eco-friendly product? 

Okay, That’s a tough one! My favourite would be soil and seed modaks as it holds a very sentimental value and works as a great gift. Any eco-friendly item which is reusable (steel straws, cutlery, tote bags, bamboo brushes) and doesn’t harm nature is my favourite. 

Tell us about your most memorable DIY project/workshop.

My first workshop was the most memorable one. It was on the basics of gardening, I thought nobody would attend such a workshop, but I ended up teaching 5 children and a few adults who were so enthusiastic and the youngest participant was only 4 years old.

If your life was a book or a movie, what would it be called? 

Life Lessons from a Plant 😉 

How do you like to spend your free time?

I am usually gardening in my free time. I make sure I learn new things like embroidery, DIY crafts, new recipes, etc. Dying clothes with natural colours is my new free time hobby.

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

1. I wish to grow as many plants and trees as I can, wherever I can.

2. Travel to all the national parks, sanctuaries, and forests.

3. Spend more time with people around the country trying to spread awareness about our environment.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

The zero waste farmer (Manju Kumar) and worm rani (Vaani Murthy) are 2 accounts I really get inspired by.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Email Address: [email protected]

In the Spotlight- Ashish Limaye

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight this week we have Ashish Limaye, a professional equestrian who talks about his passion for the sport and his love for coaching. Read to know his story.

Tell us about your journey— how did you get into horse riding? 

I started riding at a small restaurant that had one horse kept in the backyard. A few months after riding there, Pune hosted junior Nationals. I went there to watch and met Col Khan after which I started riding with him. 

Horse rider, trainer, instructor- you don many hats. How best would you describe yourself? 

I enjoy each role that I play in the sport. I would say I am a rider who got the opportunity to work with great horses and good kids to help them bring out the best in them. 

What are some of the most challenging aspects of horsemanship and how do you tackle them?

The most challenging is the fact that there is no one method or step-wise process to work with horses. Each horse is different and you have to understand them individually and find a way to work best with every single one of them. 

What does it take to be an equestrian athlete? What advice would you give to aspiring riders? 

It takes a lot of patience and perseverance. I would advise aspiring riders that when you want to compete and want to beat others, don’t forget that you are not the only one performing. You have a team member who doesn’t talk. So take time to learn to communicate with your team member because only then will you both be able to perform your best.

Share the story of your most memorable victory as an athlete. 

My first international show where I placed third. 

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list. 

Asian Games, Olympics and Retirement.

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I love watching movies. 

What are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media? 

I follow most top riders, Scott Brash, Kent Farrington, Harrie Smolders and so on. 

Where can people get in touch with you?  

I have a Facebook and Instagram account by my name. My email id is [email protected]


In the Spotlight- Shounak Amonkar

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight this week, we have Shounak Amonkar, a celebrity stylist and the co-founder of Who Wore What When. Shounak takes us through his illustrious journey in fashion. Read to know his story.

Tell us about your journey — how did you get into Fashion? 

I did my graduation as a product designer and moved to Milan to do my master’s in fashion accessories. That was honestly my first taste of what it was to be a part of the Fashion industry. That was my first step and from then on I created a shoe collection for my masters’ final graduation project. We had to style the shoot, I mean I had to get it photographed and the shoot looked great and I realised I’d like putting things together and creating a look. That’s how I originally got into styling.

Share the story behind your venture, Who Wore What When.

So, I met Pranay in Milan. Pranay is my partner. We run Who Wore What When together. He was doing his under-graduation in fashion design and I was doing my master’s in accessories. The thing is Milan Fashion Week used to be insane, it used to be an intense week. People used to dress up and there used to be crazy Street Style paparazzi. The whole city turned into a runway and we used to go around clicking these wackily dressed people. We started this blog; it was actually like a street style blog called Who Wore What When which eventually turned into all these interesting people we used to shoot. We started interacting with them, collaborating with them and we started styling them for these street style shoots. Hence, the name Who Wore What When, which was about a blogger or an editor of a magazine or an influencer, what they were wearing and where you can wear these outfits. So basically, it was just a fashion blog and that is how it started. 

What’s your definition of style?

 My definition of style is comfort. If you are uncomfortable, you don’t look stylish, you look puffy and weird. So, if you are comfortable in what you are wearing, I think that inherently starts looking stylish. I primarily wear only black, so my approach is kind of minimalistic when it comes to colour and my general inspiration in terms of style is Yohji Yamamoto. He is a Japanese designer, who does interesting silhouettes and does great all-black clothing.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a celebrity stylist? 

Being a celebrity stylist, I feel the most challenging part is it’s a lot of work. It’s not fun, it’s not glamorous, it’s not all parties and all of that. It’s extremely exhausting and primarily you need to understand the celebrity, you have to understand their personality because the clothes are an extension of who they are and not what you think works on them. So, we do a lot of research in terms of what they wear, what they look great in, what they wore in the past that did work so there is a lot of research that goes into it and there are endless conversations and hours and hours of fitting and sourcing of clothes. It’s a long, tedious and painful job where our days start from the minute, we get up to the minute we sleep. The thing is, celebrity styling is a very small part that we do but it is very very challenging, everything about it is very challenging.

Where do you draw inspiration from?  

 Honestly, I think anything can inspire us. We like watching period films, we like watching old runways from the 90s, we also love old Italian movies and that is our general sort of aesthetic. We are sort of maximalist, we like vintage hair, big hair, big accessories, and the general vintage Italian vibe is our inspiration most of the time.

Who’s the one celebrity you would love to style and why? 

Ans- Pranay and I are going to have different opinions. Pranay is dying to style Rekha, that’s his ultimate style icon, diva and he is obsessed with her and everything that she stands for, so he would style her. On the other hand, I would love to style Beyoncé, because I think she was quite an inspiration growing up. I think in the early 2000s when I was a teenager, I was quite smitten. She is such a powerhouse, and she is such a diva. I would love, love to work with her! 

What is your favourite item in your closet? 

Ans- Actually as of now, right after the lockdown opened, I travelled to Dubai for my birthday and I found this perfect laptop bag. It’s like this amazing black quilted leather Balmain bag. It’s a super oversized tote with a black tassel. It was love at first sight so that’s currently my favourite item.

How has Social Media impacted your work? 

Ans- The thing is, work for us started in the age of social media. As a company, we are just four years old. So social media has always been very very important. Instagram especially for us is like a portfolio. Nobody checks a website anymore. They just go through your Instagram to have a look at your work. A lot of business queries come through social media. I am not saying all, but almost 80% of business coming our way is because of Instagram and people in our DMs. So yeah, social media is probably a very important reason for where we are now.

What are the top things on your bucket list? 

My top things on the bucket list are:

  • Trying to take a day off in a week and not touch my phone at all! Just do things that I want and not work for just one day a week. We thought we would try to do that as the year began, but it did not happen. So that’s the one very important thing.
  • I am hoping international travel opens up and I have been wanting to go to Istanbul for a very very long time. We were supposed to go in 2020 but that was an epic failure, so hopefully this year.

Where can people get in touch with you?

People can get in touch with us on social media. Instagram is the best because we are super active in our DMs. Somebody from my team is always checking messages and responding to messages. Emails get lost, DMs stay. So, yeah Instagram is good.

In the Spotlight- Akanksha Maker

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Akanksha Maker, a travel enthusiast at heart and the Managing Editor at Business Traveller India. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey, as a writer, journalist and now a managing editor.

Since school, I have always been interested in the written word. It was around the 8th grade that I knew that I wanted to become a journalist. Having studied BMM (Bachelors of Mass Media) and then my masters in marketing and communications from Westminster Business School, I gained work experience across a few companies in marketing and creative direction. I had been freelancing with iDiva and Mumbai Mirror since college and juggled between writing and marketing ever since. I then interviewed with the CEO of Business Traveller India that was planning its launch in 2015. Being passionate about travel since my childhood, this stint almost seemed too good to be true. I was then hired as assistant editor of the magazine and then began some of the most memorable years of my life, where I got on a plane almost every month, discovering and exploring different parts of the world – all while “working”. Writing, travelling and editing almost came naturally to me, and work didn’t feel like it, most of the time. However, what I loved the most, besides discovering wondrous places in the world, was meeting people from different walks of life and listening to their stories. Coming from a family of travel lovers, and now travelling for a living, I have been lucky enough to visit roughly 22 countries as yet. As of today, I work as Business Traveller India’s managing editor, and continue to love what I do!

Share a story about your most memorable business trip.

It’s so hard to pick one. It would be between Tokyo, London, Kathmandu and Paris, so let me share a line for each! Waking up to the view of Mount Fuji from my room at Aman Tokyo; visiting London in 2019 before the pandemic hit during Christmas time and soaking in all the yuletide magic; and taking a Buddha Air flight from Kathmandu for a “joy ride” to see Mount Everest; and watching Metallica live in concert in Paris. Clearly, my business trips turned to leisure ones post the meetings’ schedules!

What advice would you give to aspiring travel writers?

Pursue the passion behind travel, and the rest will come naturally.

What’s the most exciting trend you’ve witnessed in your industry in the last few years?

Since my forte is in business travel, I’ve noticed a seamless blend between business and leisure travel (bleisure travel). Post the pandemic, workations and staycations have become almost second nature to corporate travellers, who miss that comfort of a hotel room! And lastly, luxury travel has evolved from being loud and over the top glitz to intimate and sophisticated minimalism.

Being the managing editor of a travel publication, what are the key challenges you’ve faced due to the global pandemic and how have you tried to tackle them?

Our job as a travel publication is to keep the spirits high of travellers and especially the industry who has been badly hit – including aviation, hospitality and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events). We endeavour to focus on the positive stories and remind people of their wanderlust, vicariously letting them travel to destinations via our words and pictures. Our readers have also been interested in knowing about the rules and regulations with regards to pandemic related restrictions, and we keep them up to date on the same.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?

I absolutely love space and aviation; so one thing on top of my bucket list is this “Edge of Space Jet Flight” in Russia that takes you to the edge of the stratosphere, for a once in a lifetime flight on a MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft. After this point in air, only astronauts can fly!

Second on my list is an expedition to Antarctica, where I would like to walk amongst seals and penguins, watch blue whales dive into the icy waters, and hike to vantage points of the South Pole.

Third on my list is a diving trip to Yongala in Australia, which is a shipwreck off the coast of Queensland, to swim alongside manta rays, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, clouds of fish and vivid coral.

A book you think every writer must read?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The book spans the history of humankind from the stone age to the 21st century. It intersects natural and social sciences, telling you about the awe-inspiring facts of the world that we live in – only making you want to discover it more. It also makes you realise how small we are in comparison to the planet we reside in.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love watching science fiction, documentaries and history shows, working out, listening to music and learning more about the things that I love – reading about destinations to travel to, new foods to try and basically expanding my horizons in whatever way I can.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why?

I love @somewheremagazine for their mesmerising photographs of the earth and @accidentallywesanderson for their aesthetic imagery inspired by the filmmaker.

Where can people get in touch with you?

You can follow me on @akanksha_maker on Instagram or write to me at [email protected]

In the Spotlight- Swapna Gadgil

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Swapna Gadgil, a fitness trainer who lives by her passion to help people lead a healthy life. She shares her journey, insights from the industry and more. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey – how did you decide to pursue a career in fitness? 

I have always been an avid lover of sports and fitness since my school days. This love continued and grew in a formal gym setting in my college days. After completing my MBA and having worked in the IT industry as an HR for 4 years, I understood that this would not be what I would like to do for the rest of my life. So I thought about what excites me the most? And the answer was pretty clear. It was anything related to fitness and especially teaching it to others. So I started undergoing certifications while continuing to work in the corporate field. Also started taking personal training and conducting step aerobics while working. After a year of balancing both my HR job and my training, I decided to make the complete shift. Post that I undertook Pilates certifications which then opened up a bunch of new opportunities! 

What’s your definition of fitness? 

Fitness for me is a sound and healthy body. It definitely does not mean attaining a certain body type with heavy use of supplements, steroids, fat burners, or going through extremely strict diets that are not sustainable for a lifetime. Fitness needs to be a state of a peaceful mind and body. It should be a means to reduce stress or stress-related diseases or disorders. 

What excites you the most about your job? 

The opportunity to learn new things every day and to be able to teach them to others. It’s exciting to be able to help people lead a better life in terms of good health. A fitness coach’s job is never limited to just the physical fitness of a client. We tend to be their friend, confidante, someone who inspires them to be the best version of themselves. It’s amazing to be a confidence booster for people. 

As a fitness influencer, what kind of brands do you like being associated with? What are your considerations when a brand approaches you for collaborations? 

I always like to associate myself with brands I would use myself. These could be in terms of food, clothing, or beauty products. As fitness is very closely related to beauty and lifestyle products, I do collaborate with these as well. My main consideration is the quality of the product. It needs to fit exactly with what I would look for personally while selecting a particular brand. 

What type of workout do you enjoy the most? 

That’s a very difficult question! I like variety in my workouts. So I love to have a mix of Pilates, running, and strength training (bodyweight exercises and free weights training). I am not into lifting very heavyweights. 

If you could binge eat one thing with no consequences, what would it be? 

I could live on Butter Chicken if I had my way in the savoury section and pastries in the dessert section. 

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I like to binge-watch television and spend time with my family and friends.

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over?

I want to travel to the beach as soon as this pandemic is over. 

Where can people get in touch with you? 

Through my Instagram @gadgilswapna or email [email protected] 

In the Spotlight- Nimit Vaishnav

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In our spotlight segment this week we have Nimit Vaishnav, a talented musician, jingle creator, and avid aviation lover. Nimit explains the complex journey involved in creating music. He’s worked on over 300+ ad jingles, won multiple awards and now has his own track out – Bekarariyaan. Read to know his story.

Tell us about your journey – how did you get into music? 

My first set of guitar lessons were when I was 12 or 13 years old. My mother was extremely keen on one of her children picking up on a musical hobby.

Although I would like to add that professional music was a happy coincidence. I was walking a completely different path until the music hit me. It was during college that I got into it deeper.

Funny story, I had finished my music audition for the college band and I had time to spare when I realised the theatre auditions were on too. So I reached the hall with the guitar strapped on my back, to audition for the dramatics team. Upon seeing me, the director (Vipul Mehta, today a famous big name in theatre and TV) suddenly asked me to start playing the scene that was being rehearsed. I had NEVER done such a thing! And there I was, shocked by the sudden-ness of it. I sat down, unzipped my guitar case, as all the eyes in the rehearsal hall were on me, the cinematic pause in the proceedings, the pin-drop silence, I remember everything! ACTION! screamed the director. I began to focus on the dialogues as the scene unfolded and started playing gentle melodies on top while they were acting. It was so organic! It felt like the music was just coming to me effortlessly. No complex harmony, or rhythms, just simple melodies for how the scene was making me feel. NEWS FLASH: That play, Somu The Pagal, went on to win gold at the IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) for that year with a special mention for music by producer/jury Mr. Ramesh Sippy!

That was a sign. Billboard size.

Describe your transition from a corporate job to a full-time career in music. What made you take the plunge? 

Saying goodbye to a regular source of income is never easy. It forces a lot of thought and planning. 

I used to work with the Digital arm of Star India pvt ltd, now Disney Hotstar, for about 4 and a half years. Folks at work were aware and supportive of my musical aspirations. 

Working a job helped me tremendously with my transition. It gave me some close friendships and the opportunity to learn and work with some brilliant and wonderful people. They were kind and generous to support me with business as well. That is how I ended up composing music for Kabbadi Kids Junior, Promos for Hotstar, Dance Plus, and alike. Now, I have over 300 ads under my belt. 

I had to be there, to be here.

Where do you draw creative inspiration from? 

Oh, this is easy! 

Guitar Chops – John Mayer 

AD Film score –  Dhruv Ghanekar
Film Score – Salim Suleman, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, James Howard Newton, Ramin Djawadi

Song Writing – Arijit Singh, Amit Trivedi, AR Rehman

Music Production – San Holo, Alex Rome, MusicTechHelpGuy, and list of other Youtube artists.

Music Mixing – Eric Pillai, Ishan Naik

I try to listen to everyone and everything.

Youtubers have taught me the art of guitar playing, music production and music mixing. I learnt how to convert an idea or a jam into a song and make it sound pro. Their regular content updates in my YT suggestions list inspires me tremendously. I just take a short lesson idea and run with it. That is my trigger

If he can do it, I should at-least try. 

Share the story behind your favourite composition or something you’ve composed. 

I don’t really have a favorite composition. It’s a fling-thing. The flavour of the week, then move onto the next song. Whichever song I am working on is my new favorite song. Creating something from nothing for each song makes it a hard choice. Each song is a journey by itself having its own challenges, mental neurosis, self doubt, taking a second guess, asking ALL my friends how it sounds, only then, its final. Phew!

‘Option A or Option B, A or B, B or A, no wait, let’s go with C’  

Tell us about your new single, Bekarariyaan.

I wanted to write a song I could dance to. I wanted to make a beat that makes me jump off my seat. I wanted to write a bassline that forced a head banging listener to make a stinky face, I wanted to add vocal harmonies. But at the same time I wanted it to be relevant to our audience. Bekarariyan, in all honesty, is my attempt to challenge myself and come out of an acoustic singer song-writer mould that I thought I was in. I think you will really like it.  

‘Now stick with this song flow. No changes. Promise.’

Who’s the one artist you’d love to collaborate with and why?

I would love to collaborate with the Gully Boyz Gang. I think all of them are incredibly talented. Every song is a story and I like their story-telling style of rap when I listen to their songs. I must also congratulate the producers and artists for the music they are putting out. It’s world class.

I happened to work with a @mc_josh_official for a jingle we did for Center Fresh chewing gum on TikTok. Best experience ever.

‘Bro I have this awesome idea, but I cannot figure out the B section’

How do you like to spend your free time?

When I am not making music, I am usually flying an airplane on my Flight simulator. I love aviation and all things related. It’s the only place I can completely exit music and delve deeply into a completely different world. I can confidently tell you if the aircraft which just took off is an Airbus or a Boeing, Embraer or Cessna. I can do this for defence aviation too, Combat and Transport, throw in helicopters for a good mix. I just love it. If it is man-made and it flys, it has my attention.

‘Playing Counter-Strike is cool too though’

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

Social media accounts across the web are the reason I know music production! I recently made a playlist on Instagram with little guitar lick and techniques lessons that Ehsaan Noorani puts out, accounts like @lickoftheday @stringsdaily and alike. The mini lessons are awesome to noodle on the guitar. Makes it a joyful mini learning experience. Who knows, the mistakes I make in playing them can be my next song.

‘Oh wow here is a song idea’

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over? 

I would love to travel because I like the change. Traveling and being away from my studio gives me more song ideas. A lot of my song ideas began on a trip & executed upon return #fact. 

So I am looking forward to my next trip so i can come back with a bag worth of ideas.

‘Don’t forget the clothes’

Where can people get in touch with you or see your work? 

You can,

Face my book @nimitmusicproject, or Gram me Instantly @nimitmusicproject. Hit like and subscribe on my Youtube channel NimitMusicProject, Check out my music there!

PS: I have won the RAPA award for best Program ID for big fm 92.7 which has also won @newyork fest for radio for international/foreign language category.

In the Spotlight- Gaurav Ogale

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Gaurav Ogale, a visual chronicler and diarist who lends his creative vision to cultural, academic and commercial projects with equal ease and expertise. Gaurav’s keen understanding of sensitive nuances is reflected through his acclaimed work. Read on to know his story.

Tell us about your journey – what drove you to become an artist? 

I was extremely observant as a child. So I always had a lot of stories to tell and not necessarily how they unfolded in reality but how I interpreted them. These stories often and most naturally came out visually. I don’t think my aspirations were to be an artist per se, but I would say it was always to be a visual storyteller of sorts.

As a visual artist, where do you draw inspiration from? 

Everyday instances, anecdotes and objects intrigue me. Nostalgia plays a big role in my work, I think my mind is like a repository of memories and they often keep coming into the narratives I create – then however irrelevant they might be.

What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on so far? 

The time I spent in Advertising Design was probably the most challenging, also because one had to keep creating stories, keep dreaming, and make people believe in what you are saying. There was something surreal about creating scenarios and worlds out of one’s sheer imagination. And the other project would definitely be my most recent Words and Visuals anthology since it involved collaborating with creators from distinct genres and aesthetics.

Tell us about your audiovisual project – how did the idea come about? What has the experience of collaborating with such illustrious artistes been like? 

The idea was parked somewhere in my mind for a long time. The idea of creating visual snippets, more like blink and miss films. I believe that in times when all of us are endlessly scrolling through different digital platforms, we are not able to grasp so much in one glimpse. This series was born out of that idea of telling a story through visuals and shorter narratives like spoken word, haikus or simply thoughts. While I was curating the collaborations, the approach was also to collaborate with creators who have various dimensions to their creative practice. You pick any one artist from the series and you will see that they have so much more to themselves and their craft and persona beyond what is known to the world. And that was interesting to me.

The experience was the most rewarding in my journey so far as a visual chronicler. Also because each collaborator was open to experimentation and most of them were trying out certain formats for the very first time. So it really was special.

Who’s the one creator or artist you would love to collaborate with and why? 

Arundhati Roy. I don’t know what exactly we would create, or which of her work I would like to interpret visually but there’s something that tells me that we have to create something someday. Also, her aesthetics show in her writing across genres – novels, essays, and films.

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I like to wander around. Maybe cook or daydream.

What’s the story behind your Instagram handle, patranimacchi?

It’s more the other way round now, a lot of people don’t know my real name. Patranimacchi because I like how reticent the spices in a patra-ni-macchi are. It’s a quintessential Parsi preparation as you know, it’s coy, it’s layered and when you eat it, it slowly reveals its true essence.

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

On Instagram, I like handles that give you the space to get lost and wander and explore their minds. They could be chefs, artists, potters, filmmakers, storytellers or even just people who have a lot to say about everyday things. 

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over?

I want to swim, I want to cycle all around without wearing a mask. And I want to get lost in the most crowded streets of my Bombay.

Where can people get in touch with you or see your work? 

Instagram: @patranimacchi

In the Spotlight- Priyanka Banerjee

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Priyanka Banerjee, a talented photographer who quit her corporate job to pursue her passion. Priyanka is the founder of The Memory Album, and her love for photography is evident through the stunning visuals she captures. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey – how did you get into photography?

It has taken me nine years of working in the corporate healthcare industry to realise my passion for photography. Due to my previous work profiles at Fujifilm India and Carestream India, I used to travel extensively across the country. I was always on the move and would capture people, be it strangers, my friends or family, places, food, basically just document everything. This gave me immense joy and to pursue it further, I enrolled myself at FX School and learnt the basics of photography.

All those years of dedicated hard work, training and extensive travel, I still wanted to do something for myself. I wanted to find my purpose. I decided to quit my high profile job and follow my passion for photography. I am glad I made this switch in 2017 to start my own setup. From a kid who had an album that had The Memory Album written on it with a glitter pen to an entrepreneur, it has definitely been an amazing journey of learning, experiences, and growth.

How would you describe your personal venture, The Memory Album?

The Memory Album started with the idea of capturing moments, beautiful stories, and sharing this with the world. In 2017, it was just my cousin and me who would go for shoots, edit and deliver on time to our clients. Today in 2020, we are a team of six passionate professionals in Mumbai and Pune. All the team members are handpicked and they bring their best skillset to the table. We help each other out and this brings out the best in our clients as well.

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love. We aim to create an enriching experience for our clients. We believe in creating beautiful photos and videos that tell a story. Be it your portrait, pet or a product, we are here to take care of everything. We offer end-to-end production services from the time you connect with us.

What’s the story behind your favourite photograph?

It would be capturing the milky way on a cold freezing night at Tabo Monastery, Spiti Valley situated at a height of 10,000 feet above sea level. It was my first time shooting the night sky and it was such a phenomenal experience. We were a group of photographers on this trip and everyone’s energy level just made this a night to remember. There were literally a billion stars that you could see with your naked eye. Definitely ticked this off my bucket list, thanks to the Universe.

What makes a moment picture-perfect, according to you?

By just being yourself in front of the camera, this brings out your best emotions in the picture as well. When you look back at that photo, you should be able to feel it, that’s when you know you have captured a timeless moment.

What excites you the most about your job?

Doing what I love as a full-time job motivates me to get out of my comfort zone every day. I love meeting new people, creating mood boards for every shoot, discussing ideas with my team. What drives me to work hard every day and follow my dream is to create beautiful memories that will be cherished forever.

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

–  Learn your basics well. Do a course either online or from an academy.

– Keep clicking. It does not matter what camera you have, your point of view matters.

– Stand out from the rest, find out what moves you. Put that energy into your work.

– The more you practice shooting, the better you get at it.

– Keep yourself inspired. Remember why you started shooting and don’t give up.

– Be passionate about your work. This will keep you going even when you feel low.

– Your work is a reflection of you so don’t compare yourself to others.

Who’s the one person you would love to work with or shoot for and why?

It has to be Jennifer Lopez (JLo Fan Girl)! I have been such a huge fan of her work since I was a kid. She is such a warm person and so gorgeous in front of the camera. If I ever get a chance I’d definitely love to capture her, no doubt about that.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Listening to Spotify, catching up on some shows, attending Masterclass sessions online, working out, and going to the beach.

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over?

Travel. As soon as things settle down a bit I’m off to the mountains and just soaking it all in.

Where can people get in touch with you or see your work?

Website : www.thememoryalbum.in

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thememoryalbum_/  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thememoryalbumofficial/

Email: [email protected]