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Nothing like learning on the job

Niret Alva, who firmly believes in hands-on training, talks about his journey through the constantly evolving world of media and communications reports Shreya Sengupta

education Updated: Apr 07, 2010 09:42 IST
Shreya Sengupta
Shreya Sengupta
Hindustan Times

Media as a career
My father had a lot of influence on me. He always believed that I should get into the media industry. Also, growing up in a family dominated by journalists and lawyers, I was sure of pursuing a profession in either one of the two fields.

From history to media studies
I reached where I reached simply by a process of elimination. At school, I was not keen on mathematics, so I took up a strange combination of subjects – commerce, accounts, Hindi and English. For graduation I chose history in St Stephen’s over economics somewhere in the South, after which I went in for a diploma course from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), because I did not want to waste time doing a Master’s in History.

I have always been given to the visual media. Although IIMC had a very short course on film and television, my professor, Mr Choudhury, inspired me a lot. In addition, my terrible experience of an internship in print media pushed me to try a different form. Eventually, I got an opportunity to work for a video magazine called Eyewitness. I gained a lot of confidence, while reporting from the country’s troubled spots.

In 1992, my brother, Nikhil and I started Miditech, a small company doing information-based shows. It was a low hierarchy organisation, with people who were willing to work hard. We used to do a lot of documentaries and other kinds of information based shows for the Doordarshan, the National Geographic Channel and the BBC.

Show closet to the heart
Living on the Edge was a show that was created in the days when it was not really about the money, but about doing it right. A Doordarshan show in English, it was a series of 200 episodes, focussing on environmental issues. It defined what we really stood for, as a company.

After the success of Kaun Banega Crorepati, the market changed in favour of fiction. It became difficult for us to survive solely on information-based shows. So we decided to apply our skills to a new genre. Once we started, new opportunities came our way. For example, we were good at nature and wildlife photography, so National Geographic Channel gave us many offers. Crossroads help define you, and this one helped define us as a team.

New show
Science Mein Twist is a 10 episode children’s show, produced in collaboration with National Geographic Channel and the Department of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences. Through this bilingual show, we have attempted to show that Science can be fun and adventurous and not necessarily esoteric.

Message to the students
I believe that no matter how many degrees one has, there is nothing like learning on the job. It is a huge character moulding process. At the same time, one must recognise and narrow down on one’s talents and wait patiently for the fruition of one’s efforts.

(Interviewed by Shreya Sengupta)