In The Press
Dubai, FEB 2013

M! talks to the multitalented RJ, photographer and filmmaker Rohit Jayakaran

"I want to start a media empire," says Rohit Jayakaran. Armed with drive, ambition, ideas and a fabulous sense of humour, this multi-talented photographer, filmmaker and RJ's creativity and energy literally knows no bounds!

When he was in school in Chennai, Rohit Jayakaran won the ‘Talk your way to London' contest where he beat 60 contestants and flew to London. Years later in college, he won a similar ‘Talk your way to Japan' contest and went to Japan. Clearly, ‘talking' is what Rohit excels at and it's evident from the response he gets for his show, Drive Master GoGo with Tia and Rohit. However, the popular radio presenter from City 101.6 - The UAE's No. 1 Bollywood Radio Station, has extended his creativity much beyond the realms of radio. A passionate photographer, an intrepid traveller and a talented filmmaker, Rohit's project won the Best Film Award at the inaugural 48-hour film festival in Dubai. His work was also hugely applauded at the Taos Film Festival last year. The business analyst-turned-creative hotshot tells Masala! all about his many passions in this fun chat-athon...

Could you tell us about your time in Loyola College Chennai and later in London?

My time at Loyola College Chennai was awesome. Interestingly, I never made it to the first, second or third list of the college despite being a school topper. After several trips to the admission office I finally got into college, not on the basis of my marks but based on my extra-curricular record in school. It was only fitting that I then joined the Loyola Society of Debaters (fondly called LSD)!
I had an awesome run winning 98 prizes in my three years and was also awarded the Best Outgoing Student. After my BA in Economics I had the chance to go to Cambridge University. But my goal was always to do something in the media. I pursued a Masters in International Business in London and soon got a job working for a New Technology company in Central London. I started work as a business analyst but realised that what I really wanted to do was Radio. I moved back to India and that's how my journey in radio started.

In college, you had also won a contest to go to Japan once. How was that experience?

My experience in Japan was quite unique because I had won a scholarship to study there for a few weeks through the ‘Talk Your Way To Japan' contest. This was an inter-collegiate contest where we had to talk about sustainable development. I first went for Japanese classes for a few months and then flew to Tokyo. From Tokyo we went to this small town called Omihachiman. From there every few days I would visit different cities in Japan. I ended up visiting Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Osaka and of course Tokyo.
The highlight of the trip was using the Bullet Train better known in Japan as the Shinkansen. During the course of my trip I ended up seeing Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Disneyland as well. Overall it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.

How did you become an RJ from a business analyst in London?

I always had a keen interest in radio. In college, I used to do a radio show on All India Radio, Chennai. At that time non-graduates weren't allowed to work on FM channels. Since I was still in college, I had to use a pseudonym, Morpheus (from the move Matrix), to go on air (laughs)! I would have loved to make radio a full-time career but I used to get paid very little, so there was no point back then.
During my Loyola College days, I had a rather useless motorbike which spent more time in the workshop than on the road. To pay for the repairs, I actually needed to get a job! That was when I started working for an upcoming dotcom. I loved my time there and gained a lot of experience. When I moved to London based on that job, I ended up getting several part time offers while I was studying including a job at MTV Network Europe as a receptionist. Interestingly, that was one place where I learnt a lot about the music business because I could pretty much speak to any department and ask anyone questions. One thing led to another and as soon as I graduated, I landed a job as a business analyst in a technology company. One evening I remember having a cup of coffee and thinking about what I wanted my life to look like in five years. My answer was: gain experience doing what I was doing, then quit and go back to India to do radio. This was when it hit me - why should I spend five years waiting to do what I really wanted to do? Within two months I was back in India and working on getting into a radio station in Bangalore.

Interesting indeed! But how and when did this photography bug bite you?

I have always been passionate about photography. When I was four, I remember my dad buying a really nice Yashica camera. I used to always want to click photos with it but since film was rather expensive my dad would give me lots of gyaan before I clicked even one photo. So my photography education started early. By the time I was 10, I insisted that my birthday present be a HotShot Camera.
As time went by I kept buying better cameras. Every time I used to pick up a new one, I'd promise myself an upgrade after a certain limit of pictures! With my last camera it was 40,000 photos. The current camera I own has taken close to 130,000 promised upgrade is at 150,000. So I love going click click click!!!
I love to travel and I never travel anywhere without my camera. Sometimes I think I travel just to be able to click photos that people have never seen. Over the years my photos have been featured on billboards, ad campaigns, magazines and websites in India, the Middle East and even in North America.

You have also ventured into filmmaking. How did you feel when your film won the Best Film Award at the 48 Hour Film Project?

It was the most awesome feeling. I think I must have been stuck in high volume mode for at least two days after the announcement. It was amazing to know that our hard work had paid off. What was equally exciting was knowing that I would get to travel with the film to film festivals overseas.

Can you tell us about the amazing experience at the Taos Film Festival in New Mexico, USA last year?

My film being showcased at the Taos Film Festival in New Mexico, USA was a simply extraordinary experience. Getting to Taos was an adventure in itself. I landed in Dallas, Texas, caught a flight to Albuquerque and then rented a sports convertible to drive down to the festival. What I did not know was that it was going to be snowing in Taos. I shivered all the way to the festival but clicked photo after photo on my drive in and even went up to the ski slopes but it was just too cold for me. So I just enjoyed the sights and sounds of Taos. The film festival had films from over 100 cities around the world. I met some of the most interesting people in my life all of whom were filmmakers. Since then I have been getting a steady stream of projects to collaborate on from places as far as Russia, South Korea and America.
My film was screened on the second last day of the festival. I was a little nervous as to how the film would be accepted when showcased in front of a hall full of experts. My nervousness turned to joy however the moment the credits rolled and the hall burst out into thunderous applause.

What are your hobbies?

I love to travel. It is my constant aim in life to travel as much as I possibly can. I usually end up picking a place that no one I know has been to. This way I get to discover first-hand what a place is like. I usually avoid tourist hotspots and almost always travel when it is off-season. The reason I do this is because I love meeting people and talking to them. People usually take the time to talk to you when business
is dull. Doing this has helped me make friends globally with whom I almost always need to communicate over email using Google Translate!

What are you future goals?

I want to start a Media Empire. I know when I say this to people their immediate reaction is,
‘Dude that will never happen... come on.'
However, the way I see it, you need to have a dream! Mine is to make a media empire that produces world-class films that will entertain the world with innovation and creativity.