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All you want to know about jockeying

If you are mad about music, have a bubbly persona and an unending stock of witty one-liners, then VJing might be a good career for you, says Vimal Chander Joshi.

education Updated: Jun 20, 2012 17:40 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

Video jockey (you can call his tribe veejays or VJs) Manish, who hosts Channel [V] Kidnap, is an MBA from Mumbai University. When he realised that a 9-to-5 office job would stifle his effervescent personality and leash his love for talking up a storm, he took the bold decision to switch careers.

A Channel [V] audition put him on a different track altogether and now he is a star of sorts, wowing millions of youngsters catching his TV show every evening.

If you are already in the glamour world — modelling or acting — the journey to a TV studio becomes smoother and faster, but this is not the only route to chase your dream of being a VJ. “I started modelling when I was in college. That really helps but one has to clear the audition anyway. Even if you have no background in TV or films, you can still become a VJ,” says Manish.

With conventional music countdowns gradually fading from TV, aren’t VJs losing their creative freedom on screen? “It’s true that the role of a VJ has undergone a lot of changes, but our opinions are given due weightage at the time of creative decision-making. That’s how VJs also evolve. In the later part of their careers, VJs can also step into the shoes of a creative director,” Manish says.

As a VJ, you can get a fair amount of public attention. “Not in Mumbai, but I have been stopped by people in Delhi and Ahmedabad. Once a couple flew from Delhi to Dehradun just to meet me,” says DJ Andy of Dare2date fame. A trained dancer and choreographer before he started anchoring shows, choreographing music videos and reality shows like Viva and Get gorgeous on Channel [V], Andy studied at the Fusion School of Performing Arts, London.

“VJing shouldn’t be taken as a solo career,” says Andy. “I honed my skills as an actor, dancer and a performer, which eventually made me a VJ.” Like Manish, he also says that continuous evolution is the mantra to be successful as a VJ in the long term. “You can’t give the same stuff to your audience for long. You have to keep growing as a VJ to stay in the industry.”

One of the best things the profession offers is that your qualification, age and intelligence quotient will never impede your chances. You can be of any age and just act yourself to be a good video jockey.

Rhea, the youngest VJ ever on MTV, finds her job ‘super cool’. “I don’t call it a job. I love talking to people, but earlier I could never see me talking on TV, which I can do now. I have my Board exams scheduled in March, but I don’t mind working in the studio for six to eight hours a day,” says the 17-year-old.

In the first one month of her job, Rhea used to catch repeat telecasts of her shows but now she is too busy to do that. She also has to travel often to Pune and Delhi for promotional tours, where people stop her to ask, “Are you Rhea from Wassup?” She is at the moment content with what she does and wants to continue with it even after finishing school.

Though VJs have to spend long hours in studios, outdoor locations and promotional tours, there are some who juggle VJing and another job. Rhea manages her TV job with her studies, and Andy works as a stylist and a choreographer.

Ashish Patil, general manager and senior vice-president, creative and content, MTV Networks India, says, “A VJ can anchor live shows, corporate events and also endorse corporate brands like Bani does for Reebok and Anusha for Lee.”

What’s it about?
A video jockey (or VJ) is an announcer who introduces and plays videos on music channels, such as MTV, Channel V or VH1. With a host of reality shows being beamed, a VJ’s role has stretched beyond making mere announcements. Now, VJs anchor reality shows, host comic series along with countdown shows

The payoff
A young VJ earns somewhere between Rs 25,000-Rs30,000 a month and the pay increases with experience and popularity. A popular VJ can earn a huge salary — there being a wide gap between a newcomer and a veteran. Popular VJs can make anything between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh a month.

Clock work
7 am: Work out
8.30 am: Have breakfast
9 am: Drive to studio
9.30 am: Briefing with the creative director
10 am: Shooting begins
12.30 pm: Short tea break
12.45 pm: Shooting
1.30 pm: Lunch
2 pm: Shooting
4 pm: Tea break
4.15 pm: Schedule continues
8 pm: Leave for home

. You need to be able to talk, talk and talk
. Have great presence of mind
. Have a wonderful sense of humour Must be able to deliver witty one-liners all the
. Be a music — both Indian and Western — addict

How do i get there?
From time to time, music channels invite young aspirants to VJ hunts. Make it a point to go for such auditions. Nikhil Chinappa was selected during a talent hunt.
Alternatively, you can straightaway approach music channels for audition. They could consider you if they have any opening.
Some people took the modelling route before they became VJs

Institutes & urls
There are no institutes which train you to become a VJ, though the odd one here and there could promise some coaching. Doing a personality development course or workshops to ‘improve’ your overall personality could help. If you believe that you have the requisite skills but are not fluent in English or Hindi, then you should sign up for language classes from a good institute in town

Pros & cons
You get to travel a lot
. Earn good money
. Communicate with young people
. You have to be very confident to make it here — or the competition gets you
. Career is short spanned

The camera should love you and vice versa

An industry insider talks about the job

What traits do you look for in a video jockey?
A VJ should be cool. Being cool doesn’t have anything to do with your physical appearance, but one should be articulate, unpredictable and witty. Besides that, we capitalise on a VJ’s strengths so that s/he gets a unique identity — like Nikhil is an expert in music and gadgets, Ramona was projected as a tomboy and Malaika (a former VJ) as a hottie.

How has the role of a VJ changed in the past few years?
The typical definition has changed a lot. A VJ is not only meant to host a countdown show, as music is readily available for mobiles and computers.

Now, you don’t need a VJ to tell you which song to listen to. He or she should know about fashion, trends, celebrities, alternative sports, technology, latest gossip, current affairs and also about music – and have a point of view on all these subjects!

Is it important to have a background in acting or the glam world to become a VJ?
No. None of our VJs had acting or modelling background, barring Ayushman and Deepti. Most of them came through talent hunt shows. You need to have spontaneity and an inimitable sense of humour — it should be quite palpable. One doesn’t need rocket science to discover this within oneself. When I screened (MTV VJ) Jose (Covaco), I found him ridiculously funny. He talks casually and leaves you in splits.

How long can one continue VJing?
It is a proper profession and has a life-long preposition. As you grow older, if you keep reinventing yourself, you can stay in the profession forever.

Cyrus Broacha has been with MTV for the past 15 years, Nikhil (Chinappa) for 13 years, (Cyrus) Sahukar for 11 and Anusha for eight years.

Ashish Patil, general manager and senior vice-president, creative and content, MTV Networks India Pvt Ltd Interviewed by Vimal Chander Joshi