My Marwadi parents (read Dad) were not super excited about me picking a Creative Profession over a steady and stable job. And when I said I was going to try Voice Overs after experimenting with Newspaper and TV Channel, ofcourse I came across as unstable, flimsy and not at all focussed, so obviously they were like, ‘Really? You want to waste more time?’ and ‘You mean you can get paid to just talk?’ and ‘Is that a fancy word for singing?’ or ‘C’mon get real!’.
No one in my family had ever ventured into any of the creative professions. My family tree has been filled with Engineers (lots and lots of them), Chartered Accountants (that too ranking ones), MBAs (who are also engineers) so yes my parents were worried about me. They did know I was definitely not the engineering types, but their hope was Commerce that would somehow lead to Chartered Accountancy. Surprisingly I enjoyed accounts, even scored 94/100 in it in my 12th Standard. My parents’ dream was going to take a hit very soon though. In the first year of college, I got a freelancing gig with an Event Management company, which is what drew a wedge between me and accounts. I did like accounts quite a lot but I really enjoyed the thrill in Event Management so much more. I think if I hadn’t known about Voice Overs, I would’ve been an Event Manager!
Now that I was hardly attending college, showing no inclination to pursue commerce seriously, my parents took me to a counsellor, to get some sense into me! Instead the counsellor put some much needed sense into my parents.. I told the counsellor that a creative profession would be a good career for me and to my parents horror the counsellor totally agreed with me. My Mom however interrupted saying ‘Please suggest something proper and substantial’ and that was the remarkable day, when my Mom learnt something very important (something that was going be tremendously helpful in the coming years), that there are things existing beyond our vision and understanding. I can still remember her eyes wide open with shock and awe, when the counsellor explained that Media and Arts are an excellent choice. My dad? He thought the counsellor was out of her mind!
Good thing was, from here on I had full support from my Mom. So whether it was coming home late in the night after a shoot or writing a story till wee hours during the Newspaper stint or when I had to go to Mumbai for the first time all by myself to intern with the TV channel, she had my back. Ofcourse she got a lot of flack for it from my Dad.
After I came back from the internship with the Channel, my beginning days of Voice Overs, I struggled in Pune for about 6 months trying to get work. But it was getting really tough to struggle with my Dad around, he just wanted me to drop everything and pursue CA or CS or MBA! About this time I decided to move to Mumbai. Yet every time I went home, Dad would enquire if I was making enough money. Quite frankly I was barely surviving during that time and you know how the rents are in Mumbai. But I was determined to not ask my folks for money, no matter how on the edge I was. I remember at some point Dad even offered to get me a job in Pune if Mumbai was getting tough. I wish he knew saying stuff like that was just gonna make things worse. But you know how parents are sometimes.
During this initial period of struggling in the Voice Over business, my mom would keep asking me to explain to her friends and relatives who just didn’t understand. The most annoying question that anyone could ask at that time was – ‘Have we heard you somewhere?’ I didn’t do any famous work for the first 4 years of my career so you can imagine the pain 😦 In fact only recently did I record 2 TVCs for the first time in my career!
My parents now say that they are really proud of me but until a year ago, I know they had absolutely no idea what was gonna become of me! After my Star Plus TVC came out, I asked them , “I was a total fluke for you, wasn’t I?” and they just chuckled, relieved about my fate.