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Thursday, 5 May 2016

Marketer-entrepreneur-chat show host: Vinay Bharadwaj found his inspiration in personal loss

What would a man need if he were doing well, both professionally and personally? To answer that question, you night need to know his story a little better. Well, Vinay’s story has its ups and downs like any other. But what sets it apart and makes it interesting is how he chose to write it.

Vinay Bharadwaj, a 32-year-old marketing professional, works for an international bank in Singapore, is happily married, and follows his passion for fashion. From the outside, it seems he lives the life anyone dreams of. But Vinay chose to go the extra mile – not for money, but for passion. He wanted to discover people who have had it tough, and yet made a mark, and bring their stories to the wider world. And they came – to talk with Vinay. His chat show ‘Let’s Talk with Vinay’ has already profiled stalwarts including badminton star Ashwini Ponnappa, singer Raghu Dixit, counsellor Anna Chandy, designer Prasad Bidappa, actress-singer Vasundhara Das, and cricketer KL Rahul.

Vinay with Ashwini Ponnappa
The ‘Let’s Talk With Vinay’ show is available on Youtube as he did not want to sell it to any TV channels. “If I can cover cost of production and marketing, I am more than happy. I am not doing this show for profit,” he says.

To inspire with a story

Vinay’s guests give a recap of their stories – their beginnings, struggles, their support system…. Vinay does not believe in scripted interviews; the conversation connects at an emotional level. For instance, instead of talking about her numerous accolades, Vinay asked Ashwini Ponnappa about how she felt when she lost a game for the first time.

As much as we all crave victory, it is the losses that make us who we are. A year ago, Vinay lost his grandmother whom he was close to. Immediately after, his mother passed away from cancer. His father’s leg got amputated –all within a span of 54 days. In fact, the trauma affected him so much that the first guest in Vinay’s show was Dr B S Ajay Kumar, founder of HCG Hospitals. He was Vinay’s mother’s oncologist. Vinay says that if one person went to get checked up for cancer after watching this episode, he is content.
Story behind the story

A friend had introduced Vinay to a Kannada movie producer, who later rejected Vinay’s idea for the show. “Even though they asked me to rework the concept, I am glad I did not. Otherwise, it would have been over in five episodes with movie stars. I wanted the conversations to be intellectually sound,” says Vinay.

Vinay Bharadwaj
Vinay’s wish was a talk show unique in context and guest list. But he does not live in Bangalore, does a full time corporate job, and has no contacts in the industry. Then how would he go about getting guests on his show? “I have had to make 1,500 + calls to get it done. Vasundhara Das became the first one to come on-board, and very soon I reached a point where I didn’t have bandwidth. If I do another season for Bangalore, I have at least 20 names ready to go,” he smiles.

A college lecturer, who is a part of the industry, gave Vinay the confidence to push forward with his dream. The first investmentfor the show was a loan from a friend, after 35 sponsors rejected Vinay’s idea. He started working on it from September 2015, and the shoot happened in December in Bangalore. A true Bangalorean at heart, Vinay chose his hometown for the first season as he believes that Bangalore has a lot of diversity. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was the last guest for the Bangalore edition, and the episode is set to come out on June 3. 

Joyful multitasking

Vinay completed his MBA at the University of Wales, UK, following which he started working at the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. But the entrepreneurship bug had bit him long before that. “I started giving tuition to a three-year-old kid in my neighbourhood at the age of 13. I have worked as a freelancer for India Bureau of Market Research when I was in college.”

In June 2104, Vinay started a designer wear label, Shinayele, along with his childhood friend Shilpa Ajith. He wishes to embed South East Asian culture & tradition into the designs. “I wish to romance the heritage of every part of India and marry them to the designs,” he says.

Vinay has also given inspirational talks at many colleges in Bangalore – including MES, New Horizon and GIBS. He is planning to a documentary on eye donation to create more awareness.
How does he manage juggling time? “Where there is a will, there is a way,” he smiles.

Vinay with Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, MD, Biocon Ltd.

Next with Vinay

Out of the 20 episodes for the show’s first [Bengaluru] season, 15 are already out. Shooting for the Chennai edition is taking place in May ,with celebrities like vocalist Padmabhushan Sudha Raghunathan, oncologist Padma Vibhushan Dr V Shanta, edu-epreneur Madhuvanthi Arun, singers Kartik and Srinivas, entrepreneur Upasana Kamineni, classical pianist Anil Srinivasan, et al. Vinay dreams of making his show international by interviewing prominent personalities from South East Asia.

Vinay’s support pillars are his wife Prajna, brother Vishnu, and best friend Shridhar. What is his success mantra?

Go give a try for whatever it is that you want. Even if you fail, at least you won’t regret 20 years later that you should have tried.

There are two kinds of people in the world: one who works for someone else’s dreams, and the other who follows Vinay’s mantra.

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