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Interviews |  07 Oct 2016 15:37 |  By Kavita Yadav

While we were studying, RJing wasn't a career option: RJ Rani

MUMBAI: She started young not as an RJ but as a music lover. It was her passion for the subject that over a period of time landed her in a profession she was unaware of. However, today she is a well-known radio personality with an experience spread over a decade. Time has flown for RJ Rani, but her passion for radio has remained intact.

In conversation with RJ Rani best known as 'Big Memsaab' of Big FM talks about her love for music, liking for radio as a medium and the need to be reclusive as an RJ. Excerpts.

12 years is a long time. How did it all begin?

Yes, it is. At times I feel old (laughs). So, while we were studying, RJing wasn't a career option. But, we used to listen to a lot of radio, a habit that my mother inculcated in me at a very young age. She was an extremely filmy woman. She would start the radio first thing in the morning and it would continue running as she completed her daily chores. However, though I grew up listening to the radio the thought of becoming an RJ never struck me.

Does this mean that you chose a different career path initially?

Yes, I started as a journalist with a government news agency. I remember when I bagged the job in a posh government office next to the parliament in Delhi, my father got so happy. He happily declared that I would get a suitable groom without any hassle as I had a six-hour job. As a journalist, I did a decent job, but I never excelled. But, a thing that I was really good at was talking.

Did the self-realisation help you take another career path?

A lot of people around me too kept pushing me to try my luck at Akashvani. The Akashvani office was bang opposite my office so, one fine day I auditioned for a radio presenter. Luckily I got through.

What was next?

Then I joined Big FM. This was also when I got a view of the glamorous side of the radio industry.

You have given nine years of your career to Big FM. What is it that has kept you that long?

The fact that we just don’t do radio here. We do some meaningful radio. If you go outside there is this image of 23-24-year-olds who probably just keep joking on radio. We want to change that thought. This medium is not about jokes and pranks. We do have meaningful conversations here. This is one of the reasons why I spent nine years of my 12-year long radio career with Big FM and I am really happy to have done that.

Do you ever feel the need to go beyond retro?

The most important thing for any radio station is to play something nice for its listeners. Unfortunately, today’s music is not that soulful. Hence, when we at Big FM planned to do something good we thought of bringing in retro songs. And we have received a lot of love over the years. We have managed to stay Mumbai’s number one radio station for years.

As far as I am concerned, I do not connect with today’s songs. I don’t even understand the party numbers. There are a handful of songs that I like but, when it comes to retro songs, there is a huge list. So, I would like to continue playing retro for now.

Do you believe in the concept of ‘competition’ between the radio jockeys?

We are all friends. When we meet during star interviews or get together there is no animosity. I just feel that when you’re convinced about your work  other things don’t matter.

How often have people recognised your voice in public?

I have this habit of asking the taxi drivers about the radio station that they are listening to or the RJs that they like the most. During this, they usually share their liking for Big FM and its RJs. There are times when they take my name and then I go quiet because 90 times out of 100 they guess that it’s me when I utter the next word.

However, I never tell people that I am an RJ because I believe that radio is a mysterious medium and an RJ should not be seen. No matter how beautiful the person is because the person who is listening to me on the other end is giving me a very different imagination. That image might break if they see you in real.

Have you ever experienced something similar?

I had a fan who used to text ‘Good Morning’ to me, at the start of my show and ‘Good Bye’ at the end of it. This is something that he did every single day for three and a half years. So, once when we planned to have meet and greet with our fans I invited him. There were around 100-150 people who came to meet us. I did not meet him that day but, he texted me the next day. This is when I asked him as to why he did not come. He said that he did but,  he left without meeting. When I asked why? He said ‘I did not like you’. The reply miffed me. I was slim back them and I had worn a short denim skirt on the day of the meet. So, I did not understand what he did not like about me. Later he said, ‘I imagined you to be like Aishwarya Rai from ‘Taal’, but you were wearing a skirt' (laughs). So, you break an image that someone has created for you.

What are the qualities that an RJ should have according to you?

It’s a field of passion. Till you’re not passionate about it, you shouldn’t enter it. No degree can make you an RJ or actor. Thus, passion is definitely a must. The sense of humour too is important. One should know to handle a situation at any point of time. Voice isn’t that important because I believe that what comes from the heart is beautiful. But, there should definitely be substance in the content. One should know what to say. Lastly, the emotions should be in check. The personal turmoils cannot reflect while on –air. He/She has to be happy till they are on-air.  

What's next for you?

I’ve never thought too much about the future. I am enjoying radio at the moment and I will continue with it, till I enjoy it.