Sunday, 28 October 2012

In Conversation With Tarun Chawla

Tarun Chawla - An amazing photographer, an ardent traveller and a web-developer shares about his passions. As I believe, a photographer is a happy person, he sees happiness in everything that crosses his vision, let us read how this person made his life a story to inspire.

If I had to present all the awe-striking  pictures clicked by him here, I would have fallen short of space to present the interview. So, to go through his expressions of creativity, imagination and the power to frame emotions, please click Tarun Chawla Photography and to subscribe to his public updates, visit his Facebook profile Tarun Chawla.

Let's read what he has to share with us :-
  1. Before we begin, tell us in a nutshell about yourself. => I am a 24 year old self taught photographer, I shoot, travel, code and shoot some more...
  2. Yours is a different kind of story. An engineer, an acclaimed photographer and also a passionate traveler. How has the journey been like? => Journey has been tough, it's easy to quit your job and then pursue your dream profession, but to juggle between a job which is acceptable to your family & society with a job which u love is a huge task! Traveling came naturally to me, first it was a necessity because of photography, later it turned into a passion. I started traveling a lot, irrespective whether a wedding was taking place or not.
  3. Tell us about your first memory of being inspired by photography.  => Nikaa! I love her work! she is an amazing photographer who can capture actual emotion of women.
  4. What was the thought behind choosing wedding photography? => It's the only place where everyone is happy getting clicked. Else clicking emotions at any other place is not always possible.
  5. Being such a gifted photographer, why don’t you want to pursue photography full time? => Photography is still not an acceptable profession in society plus the daytime job where I currently work, I love it more than anything else. It gave me an identity and purpose. It made me financially sound and it would be terrible to leave the company.
  6. In the midst of numerous weddings you shoot, tell us about what's your take on love and marriage?  => Love & Marriage, woot! ok, this is a difficult question! There are 3 separate things, love, marriage and wedding and I don’t know anything about first two. :)
  7. I have read the captions you put up for the pictures you post on Facebook and I really see a good writer in you, so another facet to your personality. Any favorite lines that you want to share? => There is one sher I love. {not self written}“Kaayam hai is zamane mai rishwaton ke silsile, tum bhi hamse kuch ley-dekar mohobbat karlo!”
  8. You have been travelling since a really long time. Tell us about a place that you can’t get enough of. => Ladakh! Can't get enough of going there again and again every year. 
  9. What would you like to advise the budding photographers?  => Please don’t take up weddings until you are sure that you can shoot at least 500 good pictures! Before getting into it professionally, practice, practice and practice. Wedding is a 'once in a lifetime' event for the couple, don’t treat it as an experience and portfolio building event.
  10. What is the level of competition for photographers in India?  => There is not much competition :) competition exist at two levels, first is when you compete for getting introduced to clients. Second is with well researched clients, you reach this stage when you are experienced and a bit famous. So client knows all photographers and then it's more of a choice of style/taste rather than competition.
  11. There are a lot of challenges people face while getting off the ground to attain their dreams, what was the biggest challenge you faced? => Biggest challenge was to create a new market, candid photography was not at all popular when I started it and it was a huge huge challenge to make people understand what I do.
  12. What do you see yourself doing after 5 years from now? => Dead.
  13. What! Why dead? => I wish I knew! :|
  14. You come up with a different essence of emotions in your clicks every single time, even after shooting so many weddings, how do you deal with the monotony of sights in every other ceremony? => No idea about this. haven’t thought much. maybe its because each wedding is different, different set of food, decor, couple, new pretty girls to shoot.
  15. Do you have a team of photographers for each project or you do the whole wedding yourself?  => I have a fixed set of people I take for each wedding, some are freelancers and rest are working for me. But from time to time, I do hire some extra talent locally when I am shooting in south India or some other location far from my base-town.
  16. You also won the award in Kodak-Better Photography Wedding Photographer of the Year 2011 awards ceremony, how was the experience? => The experience was good, it was a trip in Malaysia where we shot non stop for 5 days till our feet and hands started to hurt. The best part was getting to meet 5 other amazing photographers and getting to share knowledge and beer.
  17. Moving on from your photography to IT profession. Tell us what exactly do you do and how passionate are you about it? => In IT, earlier I used to make iPhone applications but later I switched to web based application {read: i make websites}. Currently I work as a developer with ophio, and do everything from coding to talent acquisition. And yes! I love my job! I have always had interest in web & technology, this job gave me an identity and direction where I used to technical skills to max. 
  18. What has been the best advise you have received till now? => A friend of mine, Kanika, gave me this advice when I needed it the most. “Don’t brag!” __________________________

Rapid Fire Round:

  • Favorite Cuisine?
    => Bun Maska & Chai. Don’t know what cuisine they fit into!

  • Favorite Hang-out place in Delhi?
    => Teastall at Sector 3, Noida

  • Favorite Gadget?
    => iPhone

  • Favorite Singer & Song?
    => Singer: Qazi Rizwan
  • Any other hobby you wish to inculcate?
    => Gyming!

  • The one who inspires you?
    She is an amazing photographer!
  • Had you given a day off from all your chores, what you spend it doing?

    => Yes I have, I visit ladakh for a stretch of 7~8 days, twice a year. During this time I am not available via phone, sms or any other medium.

Monday, 17 September 2012

In Conversation With Edupreneur, Ayush Bansal

Ayush Bansal - An edupreneur, who is very passionate and devoted towards his dream of making India a better place by empowering the underprivileged youth. He is the Co-founder, Director of Medhavi Foundation which is working for the cause of education.

What else should I write to introduce him, in one word he is an 'Inspiration'.

Medhavi Foundation

Let's read what he has to share with us.:-

  1. Before we begin, tell me in a nutshell about yourself.

    => I am a young (age-23) social edupreneur working with an objective to empower under-privileged youth of India. Its been almost 2 years, since I completed my education life from PESIT, Bangalore and ICFAI Business School, Gurgaon. I work with the motto of “work hard, party harder”. I love music, concerts and most importantly, I love my work.
  2. On the basis of your educational background, you did MBA after completing BCA from PESIT. When did you realise that social entrepreneurship is your true calling?

    => I have been involved in many social projects from my graduation days in Bangalore. And since then, I had this intuition of doing some social contribution in a magnified way. I would say, second year of my MBA was the time when I thought of walking into the field of social entrepreneurship.
  3. You also worked with Evalueserve and Prayatna School of Excellence before becoming an entrepreneur yourself, how was your experience?

    => I worked with Evalueserve for about 16 months as an equity research analyst, and it was a great learning experience for me in terms of getting fit into the corporate level and understanding company management and process. Fortunately, I got a bigger role as a fresher in this field which helped me to learn tremendously.

    And Prayatna School of Excellence was a bigger chapter for me, where I got a platform to get close to the ground realities of social problems and come out with solution for the same.
  4. What inclined you towards edupreneurship?

    => Poor Indian Education system, absence of a powerful learning platform. You see there is this huge problem in Indian Education sector, and I see that as an opportunity.
  5. Like all other ventures, there are challenges while getting off the ground with limited resources. What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?

    => Human capital is one area where I have faced challenges. Getting funds, money for any good project is not a big deal in India now, but getting dedicated people on your board is a tough task. When you have a vision of reaching out to 5 lakh under-privileged students, you need to have lot of good people on board. The tough part is to incentivize them so that they stick around. I would say, I am still struggling on this very part and trying to come up with solutions.
  6. At any instance, through all the struggle, did you ever feel like backing out and taking a job rather for your own security?

    => Never ever did I feel like backing out. I was rather thinking opposite, backing out from my job & getting into full time entrepreneurship, which I did when I was in a job. :) And I would tell you this is the most difficult part, when you are in a well settled job, getting fix cash flow in your account, and suddenly you have this crazy idea which you are passionate about, which just doesn't make you sleep, eat etc. That very moment defines your life when you take that hard step to back out from a salaried job and get out to roads on your own.
  7. I have seen it’s generally very difficult for entrepreneurs to convince their family to allow them to pursue what they want to. How difficult was it for you?

    => Yes, it gets more difficult when you are a social entrepreneur and you belonging to a business family. Being an entrepreneur, it’s very important that the first buyer of your idea is your family/girlfriend/friends. You need to sell your idea to them first. On this part, I would say, my dad has been very supportive, and we together have taken steps to go forward and settle my life in phases and actions.
  8. Being a edupreneur you’re working not only for your own dream but also for our country’s dream. How has the journey been like?

    => The journey has been smooth with few bad patches. But I was fortunate to have Pravesh Dudani, my co-founder who has always showed me the right way to go ahead in those difficult times.
  9. Entrepreneurship can be a success or a failure depending on a number of factors. What would you say is the most important factor?

    => The 2 most important ingredients of entrepreneurship: A.) An idea/project which solve a problem, and you are dead passionate about executing it. B.) A strong team which think in line with you.
    1. And rest things, they just come by your way. But the most important is an idea and the team. I meet a lot of young people (B-schools, young grads, IITs, eng etc.) who wants to be an entrepreneur, but they just want to be one. It never comes out only with willingness to be an entrepreneur, but one should have a valid idea and a team.

  1. How can social entrepreneurs attract talent when there aren’t high salaries and options?

    => There has been a shift in the field of social sector. People in this sector are being now called as ‘’social professionals”. Its the buzz. There is no shortage of cash inflow in your account. And I completely go by that. No donor mind give funds to a non-profit body which has high budget for its employees and management, no one mind paying a lac salary to a person who is impacting lakhs and lakhs of under-privileged. There has been a positive shift in the way people used to think about joining a social organization, and it has not been very difficult to attract people in this sector anymore.
  2. How did the idea behind Medhavi Foundation come up? How did you collaborate with Mr. Dudani, the co-founder?

    => Its a long story, and a very complex one to be narrated here. Would love to speak at a stretch and let you know about how did we come up with Medhavi Foundation. Co-founder, who is Pravesh Dudani, an IITian and a serial entrepreneur, he is a gem of a person. I am fortunate to have a person like him as the co-founder of Medhavi Foundation. We are family friends and belong to the same place (neighbors to be very specific). Pravesh is very senior to me, and I have always gone to him at time of taking guidance and support. I have always been discussing with him on the part of what’s happening on my side. At the time when I was about to initiate project EduDisha, I went to him and had a long discussion. Fortunately he was working on the same domain in for-profit business. That was the inflexion point where we decided to work together for this project and then ultimately went forward to start Medhavi Foundation. All that we have done this far wouldn’t have happened if he was not there. Its very important to have a team, and he is my team :)

  1. How long did it take to execute the whole idea of empowering underprivileged youth of India through Medhavi?

    => 15-16 months is what it took us to come up with a structured project. It took us 3 pilot projects which validated our idea, the problem we were solving, and the impact we were creating.
  2. A lot of people are interested in volunteering for NGOs. So, for the readers to know would you please describe the whole motive of Medhavi Foundation?

    => Medhavi Foundation is a youth led non-profit organization which is working with the objective of empowering underprivileged youth of India. A section 25 non-profit company (NGO), with registered office in New Delhi. It currently operate in 3 states of India: Delhi, Haryana and Jharkhand, working with 20,000 govt. school students (std. 9-12). The company currently has 3 full time people in the core team and 200+ volunteers from premier B-schools, corporate and psychology colleges.

  1. Tell us about the project EduDisha.

    Project EduDisha - MAGE program provide under-privileged youth (std. 9-12 student from a low income family) a trusted platform where he/she is Motivated, made Aware about viable career options, scholarships and financial educational schemes, given personalized sustained Guidance and helped to Enroll in a higher education or vocational institute.
  2. You are also a Yatri. Tell us what all Jagriti Yatra is about? How has it evolved you as a social person?

    Jagriti Yatra is an ambitious train journey of discovery and transformation that takes hundreds of India's highly motivated youth on an 15 day national odyssey. The aim is to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship.The vision of Jagriti is to inspire young Indians living in the middle of the Indian demographic diamond (Rs 40 - Rs 120 per day) to lead development by taking to enterprise. Jagriti Yatra helped me to come closer to the ground problems, meet people who have done so much in the field of social sector, and get inspiration and guidance from them which absolutely evolved me a social person.
  3. What can government or society do to encourage more social entrepreneurship?

    => There is nothing much the government can or should do. I believe it should concentrate on what is should really do. And, social entrepreneurs like me should assist govt. in their initiative of country development rather than creating a parallel body.
  4. Where do you see yourself, I won’t go too far, say three years from hence?

    =>At the end of the 3 years, I would see Medhavi Foundation changing lives of at least 1 lac under-privileged youth of our country.

  1. Any advice for emerging entrepreneurs/social entrepreneurs?

    => Be cool, stay calm, believe in your idea, and execute your idea
    ASAP. _____________________________ Rapid fire round:

  • Favorite Place?
    => Leh
  • Favorite Cuisine?
    => Italian
  • Favorite Gadget?
    =>My Blackberry phone :)
  • Favorite Book?
    => I don’t have the patience to read them.
  • Your role-model?
    => Rahul Batulia, Founder of Rubbabu.
  • Any hobby that you wish to inculcate?
    => Like getting some time out for myself every day into activities like swimming, cycling, playing different sports etc.
  • If you were to write a book someday, what would it be about?
    => Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

In Conversation With Mili Nair

Mili Nair - A singer trained in western music who shot to fame in the music industry surely doesn't need an introduction. She has won accolades for singing Amit Trivedi's composition - Badri Badariya on MTV Coke Studio. Mili is a stylistically diverse vocalist interested in, and influenced by different musical genres. She has a First Concert Certificate, The Bronze Level in choral music from the Trinity College of Music London and a Grade 7 from the Royal School of Music London, all of which she has passed with a Distinction. She has also completed the Grade 8 examination in singing with the Royal School Of Music London.

  1. When did you start singing?

    => Before I started to talk, I used to hum tunes with ease. Perhaps I was a little more than a year old then.

  2. What is your first memory of being inspired by music?

    => Music was always a part of my household. My parents were always interested in Music. It was a part of our daily life from the time I can remember and I was lucky to listen to a wide spectrum of genres from a very young age. So I guess I can say that music inspired me at a very early age.

  3. What is your fondest memory of music in your childhood?

    => As a child I loved Christmas for the carol singing that we did. My fondest memory of music as a part of my life is of Christmas when I was 14 and I got to sing in the best Children’s choir at NCPA hall in Mumbai. I still look forward to sing carols because it’s such a community activity. Then there were National competitions in school that encouraged music a lot! Come to think of it I was extremely lucky to be in a school that took music and children with talent very seriously. That helped me imbibe a discipline in music that’s helpful even till this very day.

  4. When did you realise that music is your true calling and it’s time to take a lead?

    => I realised it was my true calling as such when I was in college. There was a rock band I was a part of and then I started learning jazz. I got various opportunities to collaborate with big musicians in India who were doing jazz. So when the big opportunities came by and the response was phenomenal I decided that it was music for me as a career.

  5. How did you get initiated in jazz?

    => Jazz is something I picked during my formative years in the country and abroad. I got an opportunity to perform live with jazz guitarist and composer Vinny Valentino at the Java Jazz Festival 2009 in Jakarta. One thing I like the most about jazz is that you can break a structure, and there is a lot of scope for improvisation. I found that jazz music opened another world completely.

  6. Generally musicians pursue one single genre but you are influenced by different genres. How did that happen?

    => I have been extensively influenced by jazz, Soul and R&B. I love experimenting with different genres of music. Then of course I have studied Carnatic music as a child and with Bollywood music all around I guess that’s a perk of being in India. You get to hear so much!

  7. Which vocalists, jazz or otherwise, influenced you while you were growing up?

    => There are so many. Freddie Mercury of Queen, Bruce Dickens of Iron Maiden, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Sting, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chitra, Remo Fernandes. It’s a vast list and I can go on and on but these are the names I can remember now.

  8. What are the new projects you are working on?

    => I have written two songs and I am looking forward to collaborate with various musicians. The songs are based on our own experiences in life. I am hoping the album will release sometime next year. I am now gearing up to make a mark as a song writer.

  9. How did it feel to get a chance to be a part of Coke Studio?

    => Personally it was all a very very new experience for me, the lights, cameras and all but I was at home when I had to just Sing my heart out with an Amazing bunch of musicians and a Brilliant Composer. It was a WONDERFUL opportunity to work with Amit Trivedi! It still feels surreal. I feel happy and blessed to have sung on 2 of his beautiful compositions. :)

  10. How has Coke Studio changed your life?

    => At this point in my life, to be associated with MTV and Coke Studio is actually a big deal. What Coke Studio is providing is a great thing for India to witness, to know that something apart from the mainstream music is actually happening in India. And to be a part of it is like a fantasy fulfilled. 

  11. My personal favorite is Badri Badariya. Tell us something about the song.

    => This song has the most extreme contrast of notes and as a singer it was a challenge. Working with Folk artist Mame Khan was a blessing! What a voice! This song is all about fresh romance, it depicts love during the rains. On how no one can escape the feeling of romance in the air!

  12. Also tell us something about the song Yatra.

    => Yatra is a song that talks about the ultimate journey of life. It’s about the dreams that move you forward while the memories keep you rooted.

    It’s got a pop-rock feel but it also has influences of Africa in there. It’s an amalgamation of genres and it has been merged together just to see that it seamlessly flows.

  13. How was the experience of working with A.R Rahman? 

    => A defining moment was when I was called by him for the Telugu film Komaram Puli and Raavanan. It was a great experience!

  14. How hard is it for the budding musicians to enter the industry?

    => Pretty hard actually. But with Youtube, Facebook and other social mediums it’s easier now for musicians and songwriters to get their music to a wider reach and if that does well it will definitely get noticed by music directors who want new voices. There’s also some luck required! 

  15. Who is your favorite jazz musician?

    => Can’t name one so I’ll name a few who are my favorites. There’s Ella Fitzgerald, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock to name a few from a very large list of favorites!

  16. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

    => That my voice brings happiness to people! That is the greatest reward!

  17. Of all your own songs, which one is your favourite?

    => I’m in the process of writing my own songs and will release them soon. Otherwise I have loved singing on Amit Trivedi’s composition Badari Badariyan for Coke Studio@MTV Season 2.

  18. Owing to the fact that you are married, tell us about how easy or how difficult it has been for you to manage time with both of your professional and personal life? 

    => It’s a great journey. Music has become an inoperable part of my life. But it hasn’t been without hard work. I am married and my husband Hamesh is also a musician and that is an added advantage. In fact he’s my biggest support system. Yes crazy schedules and work keep us really busy most of the time but we both are doing what we love and respect each other’s profession and lives. 

  19. What advice would you give to other musicians trying to get off the ground?

    => I would just say that it’s important to improve and focus on your strengths. Believe in Yourself, believe in your music and the rest will follow!

*Her projects include working with A.R Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, Deepak Dev and Amit Trivedi.
*She has sung on numerous advertisements, which includes the Maaza campaign for Coca Cola.
*Her recent work for Harris Jayaraj's Hit 'Rettai Kathire' is currently topping the charts in Kollywood.
*Mili has also sung for India's Leading Dj, DJ IVAN for his First International Release "Music Is My Life"
*The remixed version of 'Aaja Aaja' in the movie 'Ek Main Aur Ek Tu' has also been sung by Mili.