Another big part of your job is constantly churning out relevant content. How do you deal with this pressure?
Media jobs are high-pressure jobs. You have to keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Pressure will always be there to crack news, exclusives, and stay ahead in the game. It’s about giving your best, each day, every day. If you aren’t prepared for this, you cannot sustain in this field. If your credibility is high, people will talk to you for stories.
It’s all about striking a healthy balance. You cannot bag an exclusive every day so on those days, you may have to make do with generic news. That’s normal.
The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown mean that you haven’t attended film shootings, previews or events. Has the content been harder to come by?
Content always finds a way. You just have to think about what topic can be more relevant in lockdown for instance and think around it. It hasn’t affected the quality of content, and honestly, it shouldn’t be affected whether you’re working from home, on holiday or you’re in the office.
I think pre-pandemic, I complained about the lack of time I had for myself thanks to the exhausting travel in Mumbai, coupled with a typical media life. Physically, I am definitely more relaxed now and less tired. But mentally, not at all. Stress levels are higher, anxiety with everything that’s happening thanks to Covid 19, the recent social media toxicity surrounding Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, the loss of jobs across all sectors etc. have all taken a toll.
You don many hats as a film journalist, movie critic and entertainment writer. How do you stay relevant and updated on a regular basis?
With Imtiaz Ali
You cannot stay in your bubble if you wish to be a media professional. You don’t have to hang out with celebs every day or watch every film that releases, but you need to have a certain level of exposure or knowledge. Different movie reviews or interviews offer different perspectives. It only broadens your thinking and knowledge. Just stay true to yourself. Real good writing is when you discover who you are as a person. That is what sets you apart from everyone else. I’ve written across different platforms and I can definitively say that the best writing is when you come across as real. No one likes a phoney.
Criticism is extremely opinionated and subjective. Imtiaz Ali once told me a very beautiful thing… that cinema is not what directors make; it is what you make of it as an audience.
Be real and be fearless. Stand for what you believe in, even if others may have differing opinions. But being fearless is not enough if you do not have an understanding of cinema. Without the knowledge to back your opinion, you come across as arrogant. People ask me often – How does one become a film critic? For this, you need to study how films are analysed and expose yourselves to better cinema across different genres and languages. Do not restrict your love for cinema.