Intelligence and experience is what counts. And if it has beauty with it, nothing like it. Priyanka Sinha Jha has both. Journalist and author, Priyanka is the Head of Content at Screen, which is now a digital video entity. Her vast experience as a journalist with various newspapers is commendable. She recently attended the 4th Pune International Literary Festival where she spoke about ‘Roles, Stereotypes and Identities’. She spoke with The Punekar about that and more.
Do cinema, television and books aid in creating stereotypes and creating identities? Or does it reflect the society?
It is a bit of both. It is a reflection of society sometimes in the way what is projected in popular culture through cinema and books. And sometimes they create; one can safely say for example, a way of dressing. A lot of TV shows & serials do that. Even though it may not be the same in real life or exactly the same. But the stereotype is perpetuated time & again by various ways or by depiction in certain way. I am talking in about cosmetic element but it is there.
As a journalist, your touch of reality adds another dimension of you in your books. Do you feel it is true?
Being a journalist, you kind of have a big advantage as compared to any another profession. You have access to a lot of information & people which would be difficult for other people. The nature of our job is such that there is a lot of questioning. I always tell my husband that we are half detectives because you have to source out information from here. That training & access gives us a slightly different edge or approach to us or what we write.
As someone who is still a part of journalism, what keeps you going, considering many leave the media, frustrated or people feel any news is good news and now PR is the big thing over everything?
Interestingly, when I was did my masters, I was not exactly clear that I was definitely going to be a journalist. In fact, I was leaning more towards advertising. My specialisation was in advertising and PR. In fact, I even joined as an intern in a small advertising agency in Pune. And then I got a call from Citadel magazine. They read something in my college magazine that I had written & liked. They called me and said would you like to join as a trainee? So as a lark, I digressed into journalist. I liked it so much. And I stuck on to being a journalist instead of going back into advertising. I don’t think i have really regretted it.
There are tough times and there are moments you like whether it is the right choice or should I should to stay on. But I never fundamentally felt unhappy that I choose journalism even though for a lot more work that you put in or the skill sets you bring to the table, I think you are paid a lot less. But I have never regretted that decision. I think that excitement of finding out some meaning or stories in these mundane things around has constantly kept me excited.
Has your experience of meeting and knowing celebs before and after journalism changed?
When you views celebrities from a distance, you see them as either as very privileged people who don’t deserve to be that privileged or as people who deserve to be admired or be in that position in which they are in. After I started writing about them and interacting with them, I realised that there is a lot more to them and it is not always all good but neither it is all that bad. And so they are not very different from people who are not celebrities. Yet at the same time, they sometimes lead a different life. And it is interesting also to study as celebrities have their own graph. Some are born into prominence and some get there on the dent of their hard work and profession.
It is kind of interesting to see how they react to that change with their own circumstances. People react in different ways and are probably legitimate to some extent. Some famous people after some time stop being relevant and fade away from public memory. What do they do in their lives? That way, it is an interesting study of human behaviour to that extent which I find very fascinating.
What will your next book be like?
I have couple of ideas in mind. Few of them are non-fiction maybe in a Bollywood celebs sort of space, which my first book was about. So it will be more different take on that. Another thought is in the fiction space. Right now, I am excited about the fiction space because it is the story I feel I want to tell at this point. So I think I am going to follow up on that and work more on that at this time. But you never know. Sometimes plans change. But ideally I want my next book to be ideally the fiction book in my head for a while.