We have this week a multi-talented personality. She started off her career as a Dancer and today she is one of the most popular RJ’s (Radio One, Mumbai) in India. She fondly calls herself Mumbai’s gossip girl. She is also the founder of ‘Friday Club’ which has over 200 members in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hong Kong, Toronto, London, and New York. We hereby present to you Malini Agarwal who is also popularly known as @missmalini on Twitter. Enjoy reading the wonderful interview…
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: So this actually happened quite randomly. Last year one of my friends Karan Wadhera (who never fails to give me a huge ego boost about myself no matter when we talk) said one day (oddly enough while a bunch of us were in holiday in Dubai) “You should totally start your own blog dude.” Exactly along the lines of Perez Hilton, Pop Sugar etc but for India since nobody really does it with a personal take here and its mostly PR reports and Bollywood gossip spread across hundreds of websites. He thought that since I do a bunch of things, radio, emcee events, run a social network and drink loads of Redbull to sustain my party animal lifestyle I’d be perfect for it!
In fact he even helped me come up with the name “missmalini” and signed me up with a WordPress account. The rest as they say is virtual history. In fact the entire Blogging & Twittering community has been super supportive and helpful. Aspi Havewala (who writes a killer blog called Aspi’s Drift) and Preshit from the unofficial Apple guide Smoking Apples helped me move on to my own domain and jazz things up a bit and I met them both online! It’s quite a wonderful world out here. Dontchya think?
Q: What topics do you generally blog about?
A: I essentially blog about Mumbai nightlife and everything Bollywood. The thing is, living in Mumbai its pretty normal to bump into a “celebrity” big or small and since people LOVE to know what famous people are doing I figured I’d make a go of it! Nobody else is really doing it this way its more generic Bollywood gyan. Also, since I write a sort of “gossip” column in Mid-Day about what celebrities are up to each week I get invited to a lot of “Page 3” events where you see the rich and restless in their element. It’s endlessly entertaining and I take my LPC (Little Pink Camera) everywhere so I can document the evening too! I also love to travel so I blog about my various expeditions in and around India and the occasional “foreign” trip! It’s the shiny side of my life in Mumbai. 🙂
Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?
A: I tend to write the way I think so its mostly a random stream of consciousness… this helps me “keep it real” and I sometimes get stuck when my mind is fuzzy (thanks to a previous late night, occupational hazard!) then I go back and read and re-read the line I was typing till the block goes away. Or I switch to TV, read a book or watch YouTube videos and come back to it!
Q: What promotional techniques work best for you and why?
A: I have a pretty big group of friends online and offline, and ever since Facebook came into my life its become very easy to keep people posted on things that are happening. I also started to Twitter more regularly and find that in this new day and age people want real recommendations and if you give them information that’s either entertaining or useful they’ll come back. So I spread the word and make sure I deliver (or at least I hope I do!). Also, since I host a local radio show and do a weekly Bollywood gossip update for Nikki Bedi on the BBC Asia Network in the UK, I get a large audience who tune in and come to my blog for more info!
Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?
A: Interaction is key! What an amazing thing that you can instantly respond to readers/fans/queries it makes the whole medium that much more special. I LOVE getting comments (good and bad, I prefer good 🙂 ) and I reply to every single one because someone has taken the time to read my blog and post a thought so I think its common courtesy!
Q: How, in general, would you rate the quality of Indian blogs? Share your favourite five blogs.
A: Ohh tough one, someone’s bound to get upset! I think there is huge talent in India and I find that we are online a lot longer and with a more interactive frame of mind than anyone else. I mean we have some gamers but the majority of Indians online are chatting, Facebooking etc. I am sure there are loads of blogs I haven’t stumbled upon yet but the ones I have and that I think are awesome are:
- Aamir Khan’s blog Bollywood’s most awesome actor writes a personal blog. I have been in love with him since I was 9. (I told him that once when I met him and probably made him feel really old!)
Latest post: Dark side of the moon.
- Aspi’s Drift Unleash your inner Bollywood junkie! Like I said, Aspi writes brilliantly and I think we watch all the same TV shows so its fun to see his take on things.
Latest post: Love Aaj Kal: Can a movie coast on hipness?
- Brown Paper Bag Mumbai’s secret scouters-of-cool. These two girls are super fun and find the most amazing treasurers in my favorite city in the world!
Latest post: Comic Relief: International Stand Up Acts
- High Heel Confidential Front-row, tadka laga ke, again the only blog for Indian fashion and its done so well, I always wonder where they find the file photos of all the designer wear!
Latest post: Shifted Interests
- What To Think Keeping Indian media honest – since way before 2008. My friend Amitabh Nanda writes about advertising in India, its fabulous and sometimes pretty intense!
Latest post: Purple Reign
Q: What do you find to be the most gratifying aspect of blogging?
A: The feedback! I think its amazing when people come up to me and tell me how much they enjoy reading my blog or that they can’t wait till lunch time to go through the latest on the grapevine (those come from people in my local network) and then there are comments, mails, messages from around the world complimenting my blog and my writing style and it makes me feel like a total rockstar!
Q: You chose to become a RJ when FM was in the nascent stage. Did you always wanted to become a RJ? How has FM in India evolved?
A: I think on some level yup I’ve always wanted to be on the radio but wasn’t sure if it was going to happen since there was only one All India station. When commercial radio kicked off I was working behind the scenes at MTV and writing scripts (Nikhil Chinapa’s red chaddi joke is mine!)
I heard about some auditions from a friend and just decided to try it out. The next thing I know I’ve totally shifted gears and spent the next 7 years on the radio! It was awesome. FM in India still has a long way to go, its currently buckling under the pressure every business has to deliver revenue and so everyone is pretty much doing the same thing. I think mine is the last pure English show on the air right now and I hope someday there will be loads more!
Q: Malini, not many of our readers know that you run a social network called Friday Club. Can you tell us more about how it started and what is it all about?
A: Friday Club actually started as a random experiment to meet new people. We all complain about how you rarely make friends after school or college since everyone is busy at work and even the people you do meet happens on the one off occasion so you don’t really establish new friendships. It then became a sort of recreation of an environment where you are thrown together with a group of people each week doing different things and automatically bonds form and relation ships happen. It was never a “singles” club but ironically 5 met their life partners in the club, I met my boyfriend and some of my closest friends!
The only prerequisite is that you can only join via the reference of an existing member and all members respect each other and don’t behave in a way that makes any one else uncomfortable (that could be anything from drunken misbehavior or joining only to hit on girls/guys) we joking call it our “non serial killer” policy. I’ve also now managed to score recurring deals for members so those in the club each get a card which entitles them to deals/discounts/special offers at clubs/bars around Mumbai and it feels like my birthday every Friday!
Q: You call yourself the ‘Mumbai Gossip Girl’ 🙂 . There are a lot of interesting gossip which you hear everyday in the parties. Can you tell us the most hilarious, serious and ‘not to be told gossip’ you have heard?
A: So I think the one that covers all three was a hilarious exchange I once heard between two male model/actor’s (ref Zoolander) at Not Just Jazz by the Bay. One of them mock-punched the other in the shoulder and looked like he was about to have some really macho exchange but instead said, “Dude, you’re shirts not ironed.” Hilarious.
Q: Your show ‘Malini till Midnight’ is the show which plays only English songs & of course perky tweets :). How difficult is it to keep the listeners engaged for three hours, Monday to Friday & how do you manage it?
A: I’m on Mon to Thur 9 to midnight. I absolutely LOVE being on the radio, it’s a total trip for me and I think I keep people engaged because
a. I do my show prep and find interesting things to talk about, info on songs you probably have never heard and
b. I am myself. I don’t try to be anyone except me and I think there are a lot of people who love English music and this is the only place you can get it live on the radio! (Also I give out a lot of cool prizes which helps!).
Q: Perky tweets and taking song requests on twitter are the first ever examples of internet and radio association. How do you think will the Internet benefit the Radio and vice versa in the future?
A: I think it’s a brilliant process of evolution. Digital media is the next big thing and you’ll start seeing a whole new type of celebrity online known as “Life-casters” known simply for their antics on the Internet. By cross-referencing both mediums you bring people from one world into the other and the radio gets more listeners and Twitter gets more Perky Tweets! I love innovations like this and am thrilled to have been a part of this one!
(Editor: BlogAdda is proud to be associated with you and Radio one as well and look forward for more such initiatives which will benefit the community.)
Q: Many of the bloggers are good in interactions and converse well. Can you give them some tips if they want to consider RJ as a career ?
A: Radio skills and chat skills are quite different but having said that there are a lot of bloggers who video cast as well so it basically comes down to this. What kind of radio they want to pursue (Internet radio is a great option you can create your own show/playlist on line and start spreading the word) to join a local station a demo always comes in handy! The most important piece of advice anyone ever gave me was this; never talk as if you’re broadcasting to a whole city, do your show as if you are talking to just one person and be yourself. That’s the secret.
Q: How do you react when a caller has something adverse to say about you?
(Asked by Varun)
A: Well Varun, to be honest it makes me feel bad 🙁 but usually I laugh it off or try to understand what they are upset about. Happy to report though that so far I haven’t had any callers like that (except one guy who called one night to ask me to talk in Hindi and I’m like, “But um… I’m playing English music…to lijiye suniye Shakira ka superhit kamar matkane wala gaana!” lol no right?!
One guy who called one night to ask me to talk in Hindi and I’m like, “But um… I’m playing English music…to lijiye suniye Shakira ka superhit kamar matkane wala gaana!” lol no right?!
Q: Are radio advertisements paid attention and do they reach the targeted audience?
(Asked by @sandyssn)
A: Radio is a great medium Sandy, unlike TV where you’ll end up flipping channels you tend to keep the radio one and if you make an advertisement with a fun jingle or some comic element people tend to enjoy it and then start associating that with the brand. (If you think about it for example, Britannia’s biggest hook is the *ting ting ta ting* which everyone recognizes.) Since every radio station has a predetermined target audience the advertisers know what kind of people they will be reaching with their ads (its all very organized!) Plus advertising is what keeps us in business so no complaints!
Q: What is the mantra for a successful radio jockey?
(Asked by Aakruti)
A: Aakruti, that’s the magic question! I think my mantra is get on the air and have a blast! I mean how can you entertain anyone else if you’re not having fun yourself right? The most important lesson I learnt about being a radio jockey is not to “broadcast” to the entire city as if you’re talking to a million people (even though you might be) talk to just one person, kind of how you would talk to your best friend with a little extra enthusiasm and you’re good to go and MOST importantly be yourself (or be very very good at being the persona you create!)
Q: Any message for your fans/listeners?
(Asked by Vimal)
A: Vimal Yes! I love you all! You don’t realize it but I get a HUGE kick out of the fact that you listen and I love to know when you do so text me (ONE <space> <your message> to 53650, twitter me (@missmalini), mail me (malini (at) radioone.in) I would love to hear from you! No entertainer is complete without the people they entertain so YOU are the secret of my success!
Q: “I m a techie, winner of Radiocity RJ hunt, how can I be a part time RJ without affecting my tech career?”
(Asked by @rockgird)
A: First up, Congratulations! A lot of radio stations have a separate set of RJ’s for their weekend shows, so you should find out who’s got a slot free, take your demo to them and see what happens. As long as you can manage your work timings you should be fine! Good luck . 🙂
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?
A: Do it but be regular about it! The worst thing for a blogger is days of no activity because even if someone likes your blog they will assume nothing is going on and move along. A lot of celebrity blogs suffer from this lack of regularity in postings. Figure out what you want your blog to be about and pretty much the skies the limit you’re on the world wide web!
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.
Color: Pink/Purple (can’t you tell?)
Movie: Ohhh so many, The Breakfast Club, City of Angels (all romantic comedies basically), Andaaz Apna Apna and currently Twilight!
TV Show: How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Beauty & The Geek (I’m a reality TV junkie!)
Book: Still Life with Wood Pecker (by Tom Robbins), Snow White and the Seven Samurai (by Tom Holt)
Time of Day: Friday Night!
Thanks a lot for the Malini, it was a wonderful interview. We are sure our readers were enlightened with your answers and would visit your blog to read your thoughts. We wish you all the best for the future.