When I first saw the hashtag #WhyIWrite here, the answer chuckled in my mind, “Because I am paid to.” But I understand that I am one of the lucky few in this country who are and I also know that there are thousands of people who would love to write, provided their written material reaches the right audience. But jokes apart, if you’d ever ask me why I write, I’ll tell you this, “Because I know it makes a difference.”
I am an outsider in the Bollywood reporter industry. I suspect I was hired here as a stop-gap arrangement (by a production company in Aram Nagar Part II, famous for more than 150 production houses that run out of bungalows), that worked well enough, without any hitches, to take me to the office of the channel that I finally ended up working for. I worked there for around a year and a half and I quit before my contract expired. This happened around the same time the channel was in talks of a takeover/buyout and in the midst of two elaborate firing processes. That takeover has now happened and is present in all its glory on my Facebook timelines. I came in with no Godfather, no past experience and no friend-of-friend. So, people were surprised when I stayed and more surprised when I left.
That doesn’t mean it was a cakewalk. My boss couldn’t tolerate me, my colleagues couldn’t believe me, and my department colleague didn’t really know what to do with me. But because life is a journey and we all know we have our destinations, we got along as nicely as let’s say, Thor and Loki, Captain America and Iron Man. When I quit, I had no other job and in hand and was actually jobless for around 2 months.
Cut to 2007.
Because that was also the time when I was jobless. I had quit because of an illness and I didn’t know what to do with my time. As anyone else would, I started watching films. One such film, Up in the Air, moved me so much that I knew I had to write about it. I struck upon the idea of starting a blog. I quickly set up a blog and even as I started using it, I knew it wasn’t going to satisfy me. Those were cheap times, so I could book a domain name and buy hosting for cheap (I will, forever, thank Hostgator for their monthly plans). I then got a hanging knowledge of WordPress, spent 36 hours to find a good theme and ran with it.
For the technically uninformed, I basically launched a website into the world within 3 days and 2000 rupees, even if for 90 days.
It was a roll. I started reviewing films, sharing those links on my website and on Orkut. I quickly understood how to economically spend money – I went for the morning shows, I didn’t go for the popcorn, I came home quickly and I wrote that review out. I learnt what SMO was – I didn’t have money for SEO – and somehow, somewhere, miraculously, my website started gaining traction.
I first began getting calls from my friends asking me whether they should watch a film. Later, people on the other end would get irritated when they found out that I had n’t seen a film. I understood why. Watching films in Mumbai is still a couple or a family affair. So, my friend was actually wanting to know whether they should pay 2500 rupees (tickets+dinner+travel) for a film. I had it cheaper, I could take that decision at 110 rupees. Yes, it got overwhelming after a while and yes, I started ignoring calls later.
The upticks happened faster after that. Dia Mirza was launching her film and surprisingly, from ‘outta nowhere’, I was invited to one of their events. This was before ‘influencers’ and ‘Instagrammers’ and ‘Twitter Celebrities’. While the idea of being a ‘blogger’ who was rubbing shoulders with the camera crew of the biggest names in media journalism was great, that was also where I understood what I was.
I was just a guy with a blog.
To put it literally, I was just a guy with a digicam surrounded by multiple crews. I was again, overwhelmed. That event was proof for me that while ‘one guy with a blog’ can do big things, even that guy requires a push and support sometime around. I came home, decided that I couldn’t run this site on my own and quietly waited for it to die down.
Two things stopped me from continuing. One, I didn’t have the time for social media marketing and two, I didn’t actually have the wherewithal to handle the security of a blog. It’s been seven years since I closed down my first website and today, we are in a scenario where I wouldn’t even need a website to put my point across. There’s the YKA platform, and I am sure there are others too. People with an opinion live in great times, they have a platform today that looks after all the mundane stuff, like security and marketing and all that – and they just have to write.
It’d be criminal not to write in such times.