The Indian Media industry is tough to crack. You are told that you need good connections, or solid experience or plain luck ! This becomes a deterrent to many except a few, who defy the odds to find their way into the industry based on relentless enthusiasm and a drive to succeed !

Shraddha Mohanti, our next pathbreaker, Talent and Music Content Manager at Kwan, manages some of the biggest names in the music industry and handles musical content for Jam8, a one of a kind music production house in India.

Shraddha talks to  Shyam Krishnamurthy  from The Interview Portal about growing up being mesmerized by media and taking the plunge solely based on the will to learn the ropes and grow.

For students, there are no free tickets in life, nor are there deterrents to your dream careers. There are those who take chances and those who don’t. Choose which side do you want to be?

Shraddha, tell us about your background?

I belong to the city of Kolkata, where I was born and brought up, and stayed for 23 and a half years until I decided to shift to Mumbai to follow my dreams. Ever Since childhood, I always wanted a career in media, to be a journalist precisely, since I was always fascinated watching news reporters and reading newspaper columns. The way they spoke on TV and the style of writing in the newspaper always attracted me. Also, it was my mother’s dream to become a journalist which she couldn’t fulfil because of her life as a homemaker with a kid. 

What did you study?

This made me take up Journalism Hons. in college in one of the best colleges in Kolkata. In my second year of college, I took a chance and applied for an internship with Times of India, and luckily got the opportunity. An 8 month internship with them helped me a lot in understanding the world of media. 

What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

I was always very fascinated and mesmerized about the media hub of Mumbai. Having worked in live events, I was always wanting to do more and explore more opportunities nationally. In those events I met talent managers and used to be in awe with the kind of responsibilities and work they used to do. That kind of work needs passion and dedication. It always attracted me and I always believed that I had it in me to do something like that. So, when I got an opportunity to work in Mumbai I didn’t think twice about grabbing it. 

Besides, back in Kolkata, I had extremely encouraging bosses. My mentor Mr. Souvik Dasgupta always motivated me to face challenges while moving forward and helped me become aware of my skills. 

Meeting Akriti kakar was definitely a major turning point in my life which gave me the confidence to take a step forward towards my passion.  Thus, I started my journey as a media professional in the dream city in one of the best companies, KWAN.

How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path

Post my internship, I was looking for more opportunities while still in college when a friend of mine helped me get in touch with one of the best production houses in Kolkata. Though I was still deciding what exactly I wanted to do, I took a chance and went to meet them. I was hired as an assistant director for Bengali TV shows, mostly non-fiction. This kick-started my journey in television media which lasted for 4 and a half long years until I decided to shift to Mumbai. I learnt everything from scratch, thanks to my excellent seniors and bosses. 

Having worked in the television industry in Kolkata for 4 and a half years, with the best of the directors, actors, producers and one of the best production house of Kolkata, besides a journalism hons. degree and an 8 months experience as an intern in TOI, there came a point where I wanted to do more and go a step further ahead by exploring opportunities nationally. Right at that point of time I happened to meet Akriti and it was like the opportunity came to me by itself. 

While one of my shoots was going on for a music awards event, I happened to meet a renowned Bollywood singer Akriti Kakar who was performing in the same event. While having conversations with her, she mentioned that she was looking for a manager. Since even I was looking for an opportunity and a change for the better (Who doesn’t want to work in Mumbai, the media hub and grab an opportunity that came walking to you!). We discussed and I got on board as Akriti Kakar’s business manager, my first job in Mumbai. A year later, I happened to speak to a senior person from Kwan, one of the biggest talent management agencies in India and forwarded my CV to the HR there. Things worked out, everything fell in place and here I am! Having completed 5 wonderful years in Kwan and hopefully many more years to come.

How did you get your first break?

I was still in college, pursuing my bachelors degree in Journalism and post my 8 months internship with TOI I was looking for an opportunity to start working in the media business. It was then more like testing the waters. 

While having a casual chat with Saikat, a friend who happens to be an established media professional, he told me about this production house looking to hire freshers. I got in touch with them and quite coincidentally I was staying just 2 lanes away from their office. So they immediately called me for an interview. I went, spoke to them and explained how I have absolutely zero idea about how the television industry works, yet I have the passion and enthusiasm about the media industry. I got hired and started working and learning about how the television industry works. I spent 4 and a half years working there before shifting to Mumbai and couldn’t have been trained under a better team or learnt from anyone better. 

What were the challenges you faced? How did you address them?

When I joined the production house back in Kolkata, my first ever job, I was nothing but a novice with absolutely zero knowledge. I didn’t even know what a reality show means. Obviously I had a lot of questions, I made innumerous mistakes, and goof ups. I got scolded, but was made to understand my mistake and how to rectify it. Fortunately I had great bosses and mentors who never lost patience in answering my doubts and questions, big or small, stupid or intelligent, amidst their busy schedules and shoots. 

Where have you been working currently? Tell us about it

It’s been almost 5 and a half years and I have been working with KWAN, one of India’s leading talent management agencies.

I am working there as a talent agent / manager and a music content manager. I have managed some of the biggest names in the music industry like Siddharth Mahadevan, Kanika Kapoor, Terence Lewis, Akriti Kakar and have been associated with a music production company called Jam8 which is Asia’s largest music incubation centre, and a brain child of the ace music director Pritam Chakraborty along with Prime Focus and Kwan. 

Talking about JAM8, which happens to be Asia’s biggest music incubation centre, it is a a one of a kind music production house in India, and indeed one of the best. Pritam Chakraborty was the key person to come up with this concept in association with Prime Focus who helped with the finance and a never seen before infrastructure and Kwan, one of India’s biggest talent management agencies constantly backing up Jam8 on the talent and artist front. The platform provides facilities for upcoming musicians. Pritam and his team supervise the young talent and some artists become part of Pritam’s musical projects.

My job role at Jam8 is quite expansive. I work with the business and the client servicing, mainly to get the work executed within the least possible timelines and constantly being in touch with the client throughout the process for feedback, deliverables etc. Sometimes, we hardly have time to create new songs to provide to the client. This is when I have to get the team to work on existing music from the bank, turn it into the required deliverable and get the deal closed. Also, i work on creative ideas for JAM8 where, along with my very talented team at KWAN, we create IPs, ideas, which gets pitched to brands. 

While this is exhausting because as we all know creative people work only at nights so after a whole day of office work or travel, my JAM8 work starts. Sometimes, we do even team meetings at 12 or 1 am in the morning, and on somedays, the client deliveries gets stretched till 4 – 5 am. I guess, I have been able to do this only because my love and my passion towards music and nothing else!

Talking about the skills needed for this kind of a job, all you need is passion for the job because this is engaging and exhausting. You will need to love this job to be able to execute it. Hunger to learn more and do better is another important aspect and so is presence of mind. You have to have the skill of taking up responsibilities and ask for more if you want to enhance your skill. While theoretical study is definitely important to learn the base but practically doing the job is what sharpens your skill. You learn What you actually do. 

No one day in our lives are similar to the other. While you are managing talent(s), every person is different with a different set of skills, needs, lifestyle and requirements. Having to plan their life and manage their work and life is a huge trusted job that requires the right set of decisions to be taken at the right time and a calm mind. Back to back travel, tiresome work schedule, travel plans, invoicing, taking the right decision for someone else’s career,  having to face variety of problems in various areas are exhausting indeed as I mentioned before, but its glorious when you see that you are the reason someone (your artist or a unit) is growing and doing better every single day! That’s when you feel proud about doing what you are doing! 

I, as a person, have always loved challenges and I am extremely passionate about what I do. I love my job, the challenges, the roadblocks, doing something new everyday, putting in the hard work to make someone shine, being the reason for someone’s success. 

Fortunately my office is no less than a family to me. I literally spend more time there with my colleagues / bosses, working with various teams way more than I spend my time at home. Working at Kwan has become more of a lifestyle for me over the years than just a job. And a special mention to my mentor Arvind Kashyap, (who unfortunately is no more) for encouraging me to do more and better. If it was not for him, I would have probably treated this as just another job. Choosing the correct mentor is a very very important thing because you definitely need to learn and keep learning from someone better than you. That’s how you progress. 

How does your work benefit society? 

It’s extremely important for an artist to keep working on and sharpening their skills and this is where the job of a talent manager comes in. The artist need not worry about the other aspects of business or minute level details of the day to day aspects. In a way, the talent manager and the artist are two sides of a coin and both need each other to survive and do better. They grow and move forward together. And that’s how you, as a talent manager, benefit the society. While you are shaping your artist’s career for the better, you are parallelly helping the society and in turn yourself who also is a part of the society, in shaping careers and giving them opportunities to live their dreams and do better. As a result, these opportunities generate an economy for talent and society, your company and for yourself through your work. Entertainment industry is indeed one of the biggest economic pillars in our country and being a part of it and contributing to it is definitely a big and glorious job. 

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

In this field of work, every day is memorable. Everyday there is something new to work on, new challenges, new learnings. While you go through hurdles and problems, travelling to new countries, experiencing new cultures sort of balances it out. Like every other industry this too has both good and bad experiences. While you will have endless decisions to take and endless problems to solve starting from a wrong ticket to an on ground issue or the doubtful decision, all of these seem nothing compared to the feeling and the acknowledgement of having to be the person for someone and shaping the career of a person based on your own passion and skill. Needless to say, it will not come easy, and this won’t be a rosy walk, you will need to earn it with your passion, dedication and skill. 

Your advice to students based on your experience?

As I mentioned earlier, nothing comes easy. It wasn’t easy for me either! Even after 5 and a half years, I am still struggling and learning! No amount of lessons and experience is enough. I still make mistakes (and get scolded too) but I rectify it. Most importantly, I don’t let my hunger to do things better and to learn, my love and passion towards my work and my dedication to die off. I am equally passionate about my work as I was on my first day of my job! The constant urge to do better and stick around no matter how tough it seems is the key to keep growing!

Future Plans?

Well, I have been immensely lucky to have started my career in Mumbai with the best. I have learnt so much, still learning and I strongly believe there’s no end to learning. Ofcourse, having the most knowledgeable group of personalities in the industry as bosses and seniors and mentors is an added bonus. 

But for me, sky is the limit. I aim to grow and do much much better in life because the higher you aim, the better you grow! 

Thank you !