My entry to advertising was made when I was really young. It was when All India Radio had just gone commercial. Two of my sisters (Ila Arun and Rama Pandey) had started their company and were doing radio spots for small manufacturers (even shops were advertising back then).
Sometimes, Ilaji wanted music. She would work with folk artists who had not recorded in studios. My brother used to place instruments at home at different distances. The guy with the loudest instrument was actually playing from my garden through the window and people’s turns were being organised by a conductor, so all the mixing was done on the spot. It was like live mixing! Those days too - I used to make some money once in a while for doing a voice over (Pandey provided his voice for a recent Asian Paints film). When I did a chorus it would be Rs 25, sometimes Rs 50.
In more recent times, there was a radio spot that won a Gold in the Radio Awards for SBI Life. That was actually my late mother - Bhagwati Pandey's story. She was 75 or 80 back then. We thought that the story was best told by the person who had experienced it, so we wanted to record it with her. I requested Prasoon to go to Jaipur and record it. When he went there, he couldn’t find a studio on the ground floor of any building. All of them were on the first or second floor of buildings that didn’t have elevators. My mother couldn’t climb two storeys – so again we worked from home and recorded the story! If the film was in my voice, it wouldn’t win and be successful.
When we did the Polio shoots with Mr Bachchan, we used to set up our during his lunch time. He was committed to his shoots, but was also committed to the cause of Polio. We have driven from Bengaluru to Coorg (about six-seven hours), done the shoot and driven back!
Different parts of the country experience floods on an annual basis and even wash away homes. We also have faced the challenges of a complete lockdown during wars in years gone by. Currently, we are faced by the challenge of being confined at home. These are the times you remember and look back on. You have other joys too, but they’re less remembered by myself and many others. The challenges are now being faced by the administration – which shops to open, how to feed the country. When we come out of this, we all will be bigger human beings, just like how we have grown in stature from previous challenges.
So, it’s like cricket. If the wicket is bad the challenge is bigger. When we’re 50/7 the challenge is bigger than it is at 300/1. You remember those moments of achieving something when the odds are down.