As a media person, my biggest chunk of work has been in the print media. In an age when television was yet to be available to most people in India, the printed word was information incarnate. What readers read and discussed, became part of their plan to enhance or design their future lives. In this milieu, a powerful journal for women was an effective instrument for change. Femina, for which I worked for 27 years, 20 of them as editor, played that key role. I wrote many features for my magazine, including editorials which were my dialogue with readers all over India and other countries. In time, Femina reached many countries including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong Singapore, the Emirates, UK and to Indian communities all over the world. So I would put editing Femina as my top experience in working for the print media.
However, as time passed, other journals and papers also opened up and I wrote features, scripts, books, columns for magazines and papers. Among this bouquet of print media work were food books and features that were aimed at unifying the food culture of India. Where every state had its own cuisine, food journalism united regional cuisines into one Indian cuisine. I wrote several food books, among which Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Festival Cookbook and Working Woman’s Cookbook were great successes.
After I completed my career in Femina, I edited many eminent house journals and brochures. Notable among these were the Leela Magazine, Johnson & Johnsons magazine for doctors, Food Talk, Fashion, Great Looks and several others. This gave me an opportunity to work with beauty experts, medical researchers, artists, interior designers as well as dancers and musicians about whom features and interviews were written. With my interest in wild life and conservation, I was invited to join Tiger Watch, an NGO which works in the Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary in Rajasthan and met the legendary Fateh Singh Rathod. As a music and dance fan, I met and interviewed great musicians like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan, the late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Hariprasad Chourasia, Shivkumar Sharma, Anup Jalota, Roopkumar Rathod and the late Jagjit Singh. I wrote about Runa Laila, Lata Mangeshkar and almost every singer who sang in India. So also, I watched every great dancer including Sitara Devi, Sanjukta Panigrahi, Bala Saraswati and Birju Maharaj dance. This experience of meeting so many gifted and famous people and writing about them made my own life rich and great fun! Not to miss, I met most top Bollywood stars and film makers over the decades!
In this rarest of rare photographs, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi posed with her sons and daughters-in-law with grandchildren for a cover for Femina in 1975 in the garden of her home. Jitendra Arya shot this picture for Femina in the evening after I interviewed her.
A national icon for wild life conservation, Fateh Singh Rathod did fantastic work in Ranthambore to save the tiger, India’s national animal. It was my good fortune to meet him and joinTiger Warch, an NGO headed by him. I wrote many features about conservation.
I met Pandit Jasraj many times to write about music. It was a great day for me when he inaugurated the Tao of Shiva, a show of paintings, created to celebrate the opening of the Somnath Sound & Light Show. I designed this show and the catalogue for the Tao Art Gallery in Mumbai and Delhi.
Jagjit and Chitra Singh were friends because of my love for music. Chitra was on Femina’s cover and Jagjit sang for us many times. Chitra’s first husband, Debu Datta often composed the music for Feminas fashion shows and thus, there was a rare camaraderie among us.
Also, my huge experience in travelogue writing, which I love, has meant meetings with eminent archaeologists, research in museum libraries, attending lectures and demos of great variety and visits to heritage sites! All this has enriched my life hugely.
Recently, I have done print media and multimedia work in a parallel pattern. Thus, my writing continues to appear in innumerable publications including Dainik Jagran, New Woman, The Tribune, Deccan Herald, and Asian Geographic, all of which reach out to a huge number of readers. During 2011, I have edited the Leela Hotels, Resorts & Palaces coffee table book and worked as creative editor of Thali Meals By Chetana also planning the artwork and pictures! To have so many aspects of media work woven together in my career has been extremely rewarding!