Friday, April 20, 2018
EXCLUSIVE

BAJATE RAHO!

India ka number one Rj, Rj Raunak, born and brought up in Mumbai, never really dreamt of being an Rj. He joined All India Radio in 2006, alongside his management studies, and was in two minds about taking up radio as a career. However, he ultimately did choose radio and thus, today we enjoy ‘Bauaa’, ‘Sukumar Awishwas’ and other numerous, hilarious personalities that Raunak conjures. In conversation with the student reporters of School LIVE, Raunak divulges candid details about his personal life, career and everything in between.

Anoushka: How were you as a kid?

I was a pretty studious child, because of that fact that, fortunately or unfortunately, my grandmother was the principal of the school that I attended. So, I was dragged to her office, every time I was found being mischievous, but then she would just hand me a couple of toffees, say, “No more masti,” and let me go.
I could not have been a naughty kid anyways, because up until I was 12 years old, I lived in a joint family where around 30 family members lived under one roof, and since I was the youngest of the kids, it wasn’t exactly uncommon for me to be bashed up for even the slightest of mischief’s. So, I had no choice but to be a good kid.

Vitasta: When did you  discover the prankster in you?

I started playing pranks way back in college, but there were no means to record it back then. I have pranked my friends and family, I still play pranks with my parents, just a few days ago, when my dad called me I put up a woman’s voice and had the conversation with him. Best to say, he was not amused with my prank!

Samridhh: How is it that you are not bothered by people hurling abuses at ‘Bauaa’?

My show airs from 6 to 11 in the morning and that is usually the time when people are on their way to their offices. So I believe that it is better if they release their pent up frustration by hurling abuses at ‘Bauaa’, before reaching their workplaces, so that they are not fired.

Kaustubh: What were your parent’s reaction when you told them that you wanted to join radio?

My parents are simple people, my dad has been working for the same company for the last 35 years, he follows the same routine every day, takes the family out to the garden once a month, for a movie once in half a decade and to a restaur
ant once in a decade. So, they didn’t really put up much of a resistance in anything that I deci
ded to do.

Since everyone was pursuing an MBA, I did too, but alongside management I started radio, and continued to do so for the next three and a half years. After working as a Rj for this long, it became clear to me that this was what I wanted to do. My parents agreed to it, even though they didn’t really know anything about this industry. However, I am thankful to them for supporting me in their own way.

Yuvvraj: How did you think of becoming an Rj, considering it is not exactly a conventional career option?

In around 2004-2005, there was an onslaught of private radio channels. I used to listen to channels like Red Fm and Radio Mirchi, and the conversational, candid style of the Rjs attracted me. It was then that I thought to myself that this was something that I could easily do, and so I tried to reach out to Red Fm, but was rejected there. Thereafter, I approached All India Radio, where I was accepted, and from there my career started taking shape.

People do not particularly have a likeness for All India Radio, but it is one platform that gives you a chance to explore yourself and try your hand at being an Rj.

Samridhh: When you go out, how do you want people to recognise you? As Raunak or Rj Raunak/Baua?

Being in Radio, we do have an advantage. If people recognise you, then you are a celebrity; but if they don’t, you can roam about freely as a common man. However, it does give me immense pleasure when I see people’s faces light up when they realise that I am ‘Bauaa’, it is then that I feel that, what I am doing is making people happy.

For instance, the other day, I was in a mall with my wife. By the way I am married.

Students: Married!!

(Laughs): Yes. My wife is from radio as well, she was my junior at Red Fm Lucknow. When she was asked in the interview if she listened to Rj Raunak, she said no. And I was surprised, I thought who is this girl who does not listen to me. I must make her. By the way, she still does not listen to my show.

Students: It comes as a shock. We never imagined you would be married.

(Laughs) So, I was with my wife at a mall and I had ordered something for myself at one of the food joints. When my wife went to collect the food, the guy at the counter asked my wife, “Is that Rj Raunak?”

“Yes, that’s him.” my wife replied.

He was wide eyed upon hearing this, then he gathered his staff and came to meet me. So it makes me happy to see that what I do, alone, in an empty room, is appreciated by people.

Adhip: Have you ever offended a celebrity or a politician?

We know where to draw the line, and what’s funny and what’s offensive. It’s been ten years and such a thing has never happened.

Vitasta: So how do you decide, where to draw the line? For instance, Jaya Bachchan recently was heard saying that what goes on, on radio, is utter bullshit, while a politician tweeted that Rjs use gutter level language, what do you have to say to that?

To Jaya Bachchan, I would say, “Sorry ma’am. You have a bad sense of humour.”

All of us know what the situation in the country is, everyone badmouths politicians behind their backs. However, we always take care not to be offensive, but crack jokes in good spirit. For instance, the other day, I met HRD Minister, Mr. Prakash Javadekar, and I said to him, “Sir, do you know why Modi Ji airs his ‘Mann ki Baat’ on Sunday. It’s because I work from Monday to Saturday,” and he laughed, because he found it genuinely funny.

So, there is a thin line between being funny and being offensive, but we take good care not cross it.

Khushi: So how did you come up with ‘Baua’, the character, his name and the voice?

I was sitting in my office one fine day, with a friend of mine. We were discussing how your name and your voice has an impact on people. So we decided to try the theory out.

I called up a person and put up a deep voice.

Raunak: Hello, this is Prithviraj Chauhan.

Person: Yes sir?

Raunak: I wanted to tell you…….

And then I disconnected the call. We then decided to call him up again, but now with a weird voice and an unimpressive name. Our options were Chintu, Mintu, Tikloo, Baua, and other such similar offings, I chose Baua.

Raunak (in the voice of Baua): Hello this is Baua

Same person as before: Baua who?

Raunak: Namaste sir.

Person: What namastey? Why are you troubling me?

Then I disconnected the call. I called him up again as Prithviraj.

Raunak: Hello?

Person: Hello sir, your call got disconnected. What were you saying?

Raunak: I was saying that why are you disconnecting his call?

Person: Whose call?

Raunak: (in the voice of baua): Mine.

And this is how Baua was born.

Yuvvraj: So is ‘Bauaa’ scripted?

No, it’s not. I know my lines, but if the other person gives an unexpected response, I improvise.

Shivang: But you are so famous, how do people not recognise you?

We don’t call people from Delhi anymore. We call people from Bhopal, Indore and other such places.

Vitasta: So you look for victims?

Exactly!

But sometimes, they do recognise, and they play along because they know that this will go on radio the next day.

Shivang: Sukumar Avishwas is another one of your famous characters, so have you taken permission from Kumar Vishwas? Or has he ever objected?

No, I haven’t taken any permissions, nor has he ever objected. In fact, he called me up to congratulate me on the success of the character. He must be happy, we are popularising his name.

Samridhh: What are some of the cons of your job?

The biggest con is that, my show has a large run time, five hours. So, to come up with content worth five hours, daily, becomes exasperating. Also, if a new listener tunes in to my show one day, likes it, and then tunes in one week later, only to catch me at a bad time, where I am not at my best, makes him not like me, in an instant. He doesn’t know that for the one week that he didn’t tune in, I have been consistently funny. So, that is one of the cons.

Adhip: You are in a room, talking to everyone and no one, all at once. Do you ever get bored?

No, I don’t get a chance to be bored because we do a variety of content daily. I get to play multiple characters daily, so that keeps things spicy. Also, with social media, every day, different topics and different news pops up, so if I keep my eyes and ears open, I get plenty of material to play around with.

Khushi: With a hectic schedule like that, how do you deal with an off day or a mood swing?

We seem to be natural, but we do act on mike. So, for those times when we are on air, we just put on a second face, all cheerful and candid. All for entertainment!

Vitasta: Everyone knows you as the funny man Rj Raunak, but we have come to know that you have a spiritual side to you as well, could you tell us more about that?

I practice almost 3 hours of yoga every day, which gives me the energy to keep up with my schedule. I work from 6 in the morning to 1 at night, and sleep for only about 3 to 4 hours. I learned yoga from the founder of the Isha Foundation, near Coimbatore, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He is one of the only people that I have heard, who approach various topics with a scientific bend of mind. He does not simply preach, rather he teaches his subjects. I admire him greatly and imbibe his teachings in my life.

Yuvvraj: Please tell us more about your collaboration with Ten Sports.

I host a show on Ten Sports, called RAW Sunday Dhamaal. The show features the highlights in Hinglish, since we are trying to pan out to a larger audience.

Adhip: Number one Rj of India equals to the highest pay check?

The numbers don’t matter, what matters is the impact. The tag of #1 comes in handy when we are trying to impress the client. However, every station claims that they are number one. We stand 6th or 7th in terms of ratings, but we get the most number of ads. It’s the listeners that decide who the #1 is, we are content as long as we generate good revenue.

Anoushka: Is there any other Rj, from a rival channel or Red FM, that you admire a lot?

Yes, I am a huge fan of Rj Mantra. Mantra joined Red FM, Mumbai, back in 2005, and that is when I heard him first. I had approached him and sent him few of my clips from All India Radio. All the while, I was planning on quitting radio altogether and continuing with my job, at a company called Spinach. It was then that Mantra advised me not to quit radio, he said to me, “Why do you want to sell Spinach all your life, continue with radio.” So I took his advice, and here I am.

Yuvvraj: What are the opportunities in this line of profession, would you recommend it to anyone?

It’s a risky business, because the bandwidth in the bigger markets, like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata etc., is booked and therefore, no one would give a fresher a chance there. However, if anyone has a passion for radio, the best way to do it is, to have a backup.

First, it is of utmost importance to have financial backing of some kind, if you do want to try your hand at radio. Secondly, if you get a chance, grab it, because you can still work on your talent and improve, but chances and opportunities don’t come along that very often. However, to reach a point where brands would pay you to advertise for them, takes a lot of time and hard work.

Khushi: What message would you like to give to the readers of School LIVE?

So, one day, a rishi came to visit King Yudhishtar. When the king came to know of the Rishi, he asked him to come to meet him the next day. At the entrance of the kingdom, Bheema met the dejected Rishi, who was crying. Bheema, then started beating the victory drum which brought the king out of his chambers. The king then asked Bheema, what have they won that they made him beat the victory drum. Bheema then told him that the king had apparently won over death, for he had so confidently asked the rishi to meet him the next day. The king realised his mistake and invited the Rishi inside.

What we learn from this story is that, we should always be open to opportunities and not create roadblocks for ourselves. Secondly, never try to follow the crowd because then you lose your originality and free will.

Kaustabh Aggarwal,Anoushka  Nair,Yuvvraj Singh,Samridhh Sharma

Shivang  Singh,Khushi   Singh,Vitasta  Singh,Adhip  Tanwar

Students Reporters

August-2106