Saturday, December 17, 2005

A host of talent

Live anchoring gives me a kick, says Madhukar Malhotra in a one-to-one with Shveta Pathak

Madhukar Malhotra enjoys striking a rapport with his audience
Madhukar Malhotra enjoys striking a rapport with his audience

When 28-year-old Madhukar Malhotra, an anchor, tells you that television is not his first love, you get a little confused as it is assumed that television is the best bet for anchors. "It is anchoring for live shows that raises my adrenalin levels," admits this vivacious youth. Having compered over 1,000 live programmes, including road shows and promotional campaigns for corporates, Madhukar is also a popular anchor for DD Bharti’s Main Hoon Na, a programme for children. Recently in Ludhiana to host a road show, he spoke about his work and the skills required to be a good anchor.

Do you find live anchoring different from hosting TV shows?

Live anchoring is to TV anchoring what theatre is to onscreen acting. There are no re-takes. If you are not good and fail to strike an instant rapport with your audience, you are out. You do not get a second chance and the effort involved here is more intense.

What made you opt for this profession?

After a short stint as a journalist in a newspaper, I realised that the way I interacted with people was a skill not possessed by many. My friends too started telling me to go in for VJing. I got my first break in a cable TV show in Delhi around five years ago.

How well does live anchoring pay? What skills does it require?

Unlike what most people think, it pays you better than onscreen hosting. Since most TV anchors are youngsters who are desperate to get a break, they do get a chance to perform but not the money they deserve. Of course, once they are established, more money comes in.

So far as skills are concerned, one has to be full of zest, interactive, and have the ability to catch the attention of people. One should also keep abreast with the latest events to make the show interesting. Besides, one has to look very young.

What is the scope in this field?

Opening up of the economy has made the corporates focus more on publicity. Live shows are emerging as an effective way to reach out to customers.

Any professional difficulties?

Not really except for the cut-throat competition. I must add that earlier the profession of anchoring, be it on television or live, was not taken very seriously. There have been stalwarts like Amin Sayani in the industry yet there were not many you could look up to. Ever since people like Amitabh Bachchan have begun to host shows, the criterion has changed and skills are a priority now. This is a positive sign as it means that the career span of young anchors would be longer. Today I am not worried that entering my 30s or 40s would mean an end to my career. I expect to be around even when I am 70.

Who are your favourite hosts?

Javed Jaffrey and, of course, Amitabh Bachchan.