What happened when my Entertainment Journalism teacher told us to go out and get interviews with Celebrities.

This assignment has proven to be one of the most challenging tasks I’ve encountered so far in my life as a budding journalist. Ironically, it brought to mind the lyrics of a song that perfectly resonates with my struggle: “Kyun aage pichhe dolate ho, bhanwaro ki tarah, kyu dekhte ho mujhko yu besabaro ki tarah.” Hint – the female artist in the song is also the one I contacted for the interview

My assignment was to interview a celebrity for my Entertainment Reporting class. Initially, I approached it with unwavering confidence, envisioning interviews with notable figures. However, as I started reaching out, my confidence quickly crumbled, and I found myself willing to interview anyone who would respond. Honestly, I felt like I had rung more celebrities than I ever rang temple bells! Who knows, maybe that would have worked better!

In my first attempt, I sought out the email addresses of celebrities and sent out requests to individuals like Bhoomi Pednekar, Kusha Kapila, Urfi Javed, Rakhi Sawant and many others. I received no responses.

Rattled, but far from despondent, largely undeterred, I shifted my strategy to leverage connections and direct messages on Instagram, following the advice of our mentor in entertainment reporting, himself being an entertainment journalist. I had better luck this time and out of 40 people approached, I received three replies. Honestly!

This is the point when I thought I should document my experiences. Who knows, perhaps my unofficial handbook in how to get celebrities to say yes to meeting, might help some other hapless journalism students!.

So, in my second attempt, when I reached out to individuals who were “partially famous” on Instagram and had followers between 10-30k. In my direct messages, I explicitly mentioned that I only needed 5 minutes of their time. That’s how I received the three responses. I realised that staying humble can work. Notably, Benaf D stood out as she was the first to respond and exhibited great kindness.

Additionally, I managed to connect with Orry, (EVERYONE knows him!) a social media star and the confidant of various celebrities. While he responded warmly and provided his manager’s contact, unfortunately, his schedule proved to be too packed for an interview. Or maybe he was just clever!

Continuing to leverage my “connections” in the Bollywood industry, my uncle Girja Shankar, an Indian actor and director, played a pivotal role in helping me, for which I am truly grateful. (Full disclosure! Uncles can be very helpful)

Utilizing my network, I sought contact numbers, and one of the individuals I approached was Sushmita Mukherjee, as we know, an accomplished Indian actress with notable roles in various Hindi movies and soap operas. Some of her film credits include “Golmaal” and “Gitanjali,” and she was recently featured in the movie “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke.” But of course, people of a certain vintage will always remember her memorable portrayal of Kitty in the iconic show “Karamchand.” Oh, those wonderful times when Doordarshan marked the limits of television progrmming!

So, she initially agreed to an interview but later declined, explaining that she was already working on a book about her life. She kindly recommended finding another interviewee for my story.

Then, getting a little desperate because deadline had already run out, I called Yashpal Sharma, the well-known Indian actor recognized for his roles in popular films like “Lagaan” and “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi.” He is also admired for his character Don Rana in the TV show “Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.”

Unfortunately, when I called him he was engaged in the shooting of a courtroom drama andexpressed his busyness and inability to engage. I found his response intriguing and thought it could contribute to an interesting article about him starring in a courtroom series and the challenges faced by him during the shoot. When I sought confirmation to use his response for my assignment. He sent a voice note saying “Nahi abhi mera packup hua hai, kal mera gap hai par mera dentist ka appointment hai and mera 5 teeth kal lag jayenge so after 3 pm we can talk but if I have pain in my teeth I might avoid.”

I called him next day but there was no response so I finally gave up.

After that I contacted Rajendra Gupta, he is a versatile Indian actor renowned for his captivating performances in film, television, and theatre. He gained widespread recognition with his role in “Chandrakanta,” a popular series aired on DD National. Personally, I became familiar with him through the show “Chidiya Ghar” on SAB TV during my childhood. While asking for an interview, I expressed my admiration for his performance on the show, but it seems even admiration couldn’t sway him.

My encounter with him was very short. When approached for an interview, he asked me a direct question .“Aap mera barae me kya jaanti hain?” Despite sharing what information I had, he expressed a preference for interviews with individuals familiar with his life and work, ultimately declining. Lesson here – read up on your subject.

Feeling a sense of desperation, I set aside my ego and contacted Sushmita ji again, humbly asking for an interview. Fortunately, she was gracious enough to agree, and this is how I secured an interview and completed my assignment.

That has now been submitted for grading.

Khushi Mehrotra

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