Priti Joshi, vice-president of strategy, Bumble, sat with NewsX for an exclusive interview for its special segment NewsX A-List. Bumble is a location-based social application that expedites communication between interested users.
Priti started by addressing the global coronavirus pandemic. She said, “First and foremost, our users are at the front and centre of everything that we do. So we have done everything in our power to make this time easier and a little bit better for them as they’re trying to navigate the world of dating and connecting in a virtual or socially distanced way. What we witnessed right at the beginning of the pandemic is that our users were really excited to get to know one another. We saw an increase in messages sent by 20%. As the pandemic started, we also actually saw that users were using the in-app feature called video chats and its use increased by about 40%. We’re seeing that our users are very much craving connection but also doing it in a safe and socially distanced way.”
Priti further added, “We’re seeing an increase in something called slow dating. It is a phenomenon where users are getting to know one another, virtually, whether that’s through the video chat feature, or they’re sending many more messages back and forth. And they’re establishing a connection before they even think about meeting in person. Now, once they do meet in person, what we’ve introduced on our app is a series of badges that indicate how comfortable you are, when you meet in person and how to meet. So you can either indicate that you just want to go on a virtual date, meet in a socially distanced way with the mask on and so on. But we’ve introduced these other features as well to allow our users, once they’re past the slow dating phase, to get to know their potential connections safely in real life.”
Talking about how Bumble stays digitally in touch with its users, she said, “the most important thing for us is understanding and hearing from our users and understanding what they’re looking for. So we have many different ways in which we are interacting with them. We’re working very closely with dating experts, connection experts and mental health experts during this time, to help share tips and tricks on how you can stay connected and feel strong and safe in those connections during this time. Another thing that we are working on really actively is understanding what success looks like from our users. So we’ve heard from so many users around the world about successful relationships that they have entered since the onset of the pandemic, one of the users who has shared her story with us has said that she sensed a seismic tonal shift in the way conversations are going on Bumble and everyone is more vulnerable, more open and therefore it’s leading to more honest conversations.”
Throwing some light on the future of virtual dating, Priti expressed, “I think what we’ve seen over the last six to eight months and what I think we’ll continue to see is that the concept of virtual dating or pre-dates will continue, it’s actually a really wonderful way to get to know somebody and lay the initial groundwork. Before you decide, yes, I want to see this person in real life. Yes, I want to continue a relationship or connection with them. So I suspect that virtual dating will be around for a while.”
Bumble has recently come up with a new feature of podcasts where it has collaborated with some very well-known names. “We feel so fortunate to get to put out a lot of these really interesting digital podcasts and other assets for India to hear. So first we launched a series called ‘Is Romance Dead?’ in partnership with the improv actor and comedian Kaneez Surka. It’s available on many streaming platforms throughout the country. It’s this concept of exploring romance and talking about it through the eyes of others and different kind of industries or sectors. So whether you’re thinking about that as a part of music, food, drink, literature or science, what does romance look like in all of these avenues. We’ve also launched our season 2 of ‘Not Another Lockdown Dating Show’. This is back by popular demand where we’re exploring what it’s like to navigate the new rules of dating and have added a little bit of comedy and twist to it so that it’s hopefully more entertaining. Also we’ve launched an integrated digital marketing campaign called ‘Love Will Find A Way’. This concept was really inspired by what our users in India were telling us. It’s a series of digital stories that talk about all of the hope and excitement that one has to look forward to as they are building connections during this time,” she said.
As the pandemic is not over yet, she said, “We certainly hope that this pandemic is coming to a close soon enough. But in the meantime, the most important thing for Bumble and for our users is making sure that we’re allowing and facilitating our users to form connections in a safe and socially distanced way. And so I expect and hope that our users will also get to see great innovation in terms of how we can help to continue to form these connections and support our users as they are going on these journeys of hope and excitement and forming these connections in a positive way.”
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On a mission to solve data-related problems using AI, Sachin Sinha talks about IQLECT’s novel database BangDB
Sachin Sinha, the founder, and CEO of IQLECT, recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation on Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence as part of special series NewsX India A-List. On a mission to solve data-related problems using Artificial Intelligence, IQLECT aims to create a cost-effective AI-enabled data analytics platform.
“Our mission is very simple, we want to simplify and democratise the way data is being ingested, processed and analysed so that any big or small company can leverage the intelligence of data, apply it in the ongoing operations and take the benefits of the data. We work towards simplifying the whole procedure and make it available for everyone, not just the big enterprises,” he said.
IQLECT presents a method of converging everything data-related to its clients so that one doesn’t need to collect different data from different sources. He shared, ”We have created a platform and if you think of it as a black box, then what comes at the top is the set of solutions that are domain-specific. We have created different applications that cater directly to all kind of domains, where all the user has to perform is a sign-up and get ready to receive benefits of the platform.”
Speaking about the range of product lines offered by IQLECT to its clients, Mr Sinha said, ”If someone is running, let’s say a consumer internet service, and wants to understand every single user in a better way so that they can ensure engagement to have a better conversion rate at the end of the day; what they can simply do is take our ShopIQ app. Once you plug it in, you will start getting all the intelligence instantly, which is the core of your every single customer on the visitor domain. You can then decide what appropriate action needs to be taken.” When asked about the expansion of IQLECT, Mr Sachin expressed that not only big but small businesses are also collaborating with the organisation and the company’s focus is currently on the infrastructure domain.
Talking about their most highlighted product BangDB, a novel database and first of its kind from Asia, that performs 2X better than most of the leading big products in the market, he emphasised, ”We want to analyse the data as it is being generated. If you see this from a layman’s perspective, data, like vegetables, are perishable in nature. If you don’t use it immediately, the value of it gets decreased by 80%, so you need to capture the data in order to extract the intelligence. BankDB comes with an inbuilt streaming engine and processing workflow, which you can utilise to ingest any kind of data. As long as you have BankDB, it can ingest any kind of data irrespective of its shape, colour, and size.” What makes the product novel is that it is completely built in India- from scratch, which makes it best in the world.
On the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence in BangDB, Mr Sinha added that the product allows the user to have a predictive analysis as it requires latency in terms of rapidness. ”You need AI to be present where the data is, instead of taking the data to the AI. Since BangDB deals with the data, we can not offload the responsibility of AI to the user. Hence, what we have done instead, is integrate both the AI and the data together and the data remains right where the BangDB is. Once you have the BangDB, you have the AI as well as the streaming, which will allow you to easily ingest the data and the AI would then do the predictive analysis.”
Throwing light on its market functionality of India, Mr. Sinha said that the risk-taking capabilities in the market have increased over the years. BangDB has filed for dozens of patents and already got a few, along with backing from many leaders. The community version of the database is free of cost and allows the user to ingest and extract data and intelligence. As IQLECT looks to take head on with some of the leaders in the global market , Mr Sinha said on a concluding note, “We are the only company from India, which has created such a high-core tech platform.’
It’s a pleasant surprise: Shreya Ghoshal as Angana Morey hits No.2 on Billboard Triller Global Chart
Popular singer Shreya Ghoshal recently got candid with NewsX in an exclusive interview as a part of its special series NewsX India A-List, wherein she spoke about her latest song release Angana Morey, her musical journey and more. Angana Morey is garnering a phenomenal response in India and around the world.
Not only the song is being loved by the listeners but is also smashing records of popular singers like Selena Gomez and has made it to number 2 on Billboard’s Top Triller Global chart. Angana Morey is even more special to Shreya as it is in collaboration with her brother Soumyadeep Ghoshal.
Expressing her gratitude to all the love and appreciation coming her way for Angana Morey, Shreya said, “While making this song, we did not have any such expectations. I think it’s a pleasant surprise, it’s a great feeling! Not just me, especially the fans are rejoicing. Somewhere they always hoped that Shreya or as they call me Shreya Di, will make it to the Billboard one day. So it’s a sweet gesture and I feel very happy, I hope it’s the start.”
Sharing insights from the making of Angana Morey, Shreya further added, “Angana Morey was born in the lockdown, so it was a very interesting experience. Soumyadeep is a fabulous musician. This was our 2nd project together. Over the phone and on video calls, we only talk about music and the possibilities of doing so many different things. So, he pushed me into it and said that don’t worry about what the trends are or what are people doing off late, whatever you want to do, you should do and stop thinking about it. That is how Angana Morey was born. This is a very different kind of a song from my kitty anyway and that’s why I went Indie and when you are doing independent music, you have no pressures of following any rules. So, I broke all of them and did a slightly classical-based number with a very modern, electronic and transient, groovy kind of a song.”
Talking about her first song and how that proved to be a ‘game-changer’ for her, Shreya said, “The first song that I did, would always be the most momentous experience and time of my life. Devdas- Bairi Piya, it changed my life. I was about 16-years-old. Being called for a song like that by Sanjay Leela Bhansali for a film of that stature, was definitely unexpected. It was amazing, and from there onwards, there has been no looking back. There have been many more such songs, milestones, concerts, world tours and experiences, which of course have added so many different layers to my life and how my journey has moved from here to there. But, it’s too hard to count them now, it’s lovely! I am very blessed but I will always look back at my first song, my first film as the most sentimental and the most emotional and important milestone of my life.”
The interview ended on a musical note with Shreya singing one of her songs, Ghar More Pardesiya from the film Kalank.
Nothing can be greater than playing for India: Saba Karim
Saba Karim, former national selector and cricketer, joined NewsX India A-List for an exclusive conversation. Saba has been vocal about his views on various cricketing aspects and shared insights and expertise regarding the sport with us.
Talking about how 2020 and the pandemic have been for him and how things were for the cricketing world, he said, “2020 for me as well as for cricketers and cricket, in general, was a tough year because of so much uncertainty. Initially, if you recall March 2020, we were going through our domestic season when it all happened. We had to cancel two or three tournaments and everyone felt sorry for the girls who were prepped up to play these tournaments but that’s the way it turned out. Happily, the Women’s World Cup took place in Australia then the Indian team managed to play the Test series in New Zealand. And all this happened after they came back to India so we didn’t have any problems in terms of managing their safety regulations. But the entire summer that included the IPL had to be postponed. It was eventually played in October. So cricket has had a tough time.”
“We somehow tried to engage them through our online discussions and online monitoring, in terms of their fitness, nutrition, and growth. India is a large country, hence there were different regulations for different states. One had to be specific so that the players can understand and whenever they get an opportunity to go out and practice they were able to do so but fortunately, players could figure out that these are challenging times and had loads of patience to work on this. Thankfully things have changed now and it’s good to see cricket being played, not only in India but all over the world. It is opening up,” added Saba.
He wears many hats from playing cricket for India at the highest level, managing cricket, being a cricket expert, and talking about it on television. Opening up about which stint he has enjoyed the most, Saba said, “Nothing can be greater than playing for India. I think everybody would say the same. It’s a crazy feeling when you play for your country and step onto the field with your colleagues. You want to do well whenever you go out and play for your country. You know the entire dressing room atmosphere and the team spirit. The kind of high you get after a winning experience you possibly cannot compare it with any other activity you do the rest of your life. The other experiences also have been quite rewarding. My stint with BCCI was an exciting phase. I was General Manager, Cricket Operations for three years. There are some new systems and processes we brought in to spur the growth of cricket in India and it was beneficial not only for cricketers but also for some of the remote parts of the country where we were able to build infrastructure. This has been a pleasant and happy experience.”
He shared some memorable moments on the field with us, “The most memorable moment was when I made my debut for the Indian team for an India vs South Africa match in 1997 I played my first One Day International. The second biggest moment came when I played a Test match for India which was Bangladesh’s inaugural Test match. In all those moments one tends to be nostalgic but those are cherishable moments.”
Talking about has wicketkeeping changed now keeping in mind how the level of athleticism and fitness has evolved more specifically after the advent of the IPL, and whether the competition is cutthroat now, Saba said, “The basics haven’t changed and remains the same. The role of a wicketkeeper has evolved. One expects a wicketkeeper to score some handy runs which are good for the game, the team, and the individual as you need to develop your game in terms of wicketkeeping skill but also batting skill. I’ve always maintained wicketkeeper is more or less an all-rounder now so you complement each other’s skills. If you happen to be a very good wicketkeeper that will rub onto your batting skills and vice versa. If you’re scoring runs in your batting that confidence will help to improve your wicketkeeping. That is the chain which I have noticed and is crucial for the progress of the game.”
Coming to fitness levels, he said, “It has gone off to a different dimension altogether. It’s about how quickly you recover. That is the biggest game I’ve noticed in modern-day cricketers. It is not about your fitness level but fitness level is judged by how quickly you recover after playing a game, after a very intense session, after playing a T20 game or a One Day game or a Test match. That has become crucial and the new essences are the fitness trainers that are with all the national teams now. Now fitness levels are judged more on recovery and less on the number of 100 meters you run or the number of tests you do. It’s more important to recover quickly and all these tests are designed to help you to recover as soon as possible.”
The Indian team on the backfoot has been portrayed as an underdog and then they come out with mammoth victories and that’s exactly what happened in Australia as well. India was perhaps pivoted in the same space in 1983 as well. Nobody gave us a chance against the mighty West Indies in 2007 but India eventually went on to win it, added Saba.
Expressing his views on the current Indian team as a whole, he said, “The game has changed immensely now and India has grown as a cricketing nation. It is good to see that the Indian team has done very well in Australia this time but this was expected. We had to win as there is so much talent and potential coming through. This is the time for India to progress on these lines regularly.”
VIZAG STEEL PLANT PROTESTS: EMOTIONS AND ECONOMICS OF DISINVESTMENT
The ongoing agitation against the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam steel plant has presented the government with the complex task of managing a loss-making PSU while being sensitive to a matter of regional pride. The government must take into account these public sentiments while explaining to people that disinvestment might actually keep the steel factory alive, not take it away from them.
The primary aim of a democratically elected government is to provide good governance without an authoritarian approach to the administration of the people. Generally, the government concentrates on matters pertaining to financial and economic policies along with other functions like internal and external security and foreign affairs. Apart from this, it gives the utmost priority to public health, value addition for human resources, infrastructure for the ease of living and industrial setups, remunerative prices for agriculture and farm infrastructure, trade, industries and commerce for the furtherance of the nation with social responsibility.
The implementation of the post-1990s reforms became mandatory for the country irrespective of the ruling party, especially for executing their tasks in all the sectors connected to finance and the economy. The primary goal of any popularly elected government was to discharge its responsibilities for serving basic amenities to the people, along with the vital tasks of internal and external security, and minimize their role in other unimportant functions since the government had a limited role in those areas in the post-Reforms era. The then Union Government had established Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) after 1947, since India was formed as a structured democratic country with new aspirations after the freedom struggle. Thereafter, there was a requirement to provide employment opportunities and boost economic activity for our new country as there was a huge investment crisis domestically at that point in the private sector, due to limited resources and other constraints. These PSUs have served the nation all these years without any doubt, but simultaneously, there have been a lot of changes in the global economic scenario in the last 30 years. These have impacted India, and given the competitive environment today, the output of our economic activity has become important because it affects our presence in the global market.
In the year 1990, the then Union Government had taken a policy decision to remove the License Raj and facilitate Foreign Direct Investment. It had recommended disinvestment from PSUs in a phased manner as taxpayer money was being utilized to provide assistance for the losses. Such assistance is seen as unproductive expenditure and such approaches caused a shortage of funds which were needed for productive developmental expenditure. But, instead of shutting down the PSUs causing losses, the Union Government is accepting offers for private participation by means of divestment of shares, in part or whole, in the loss-making non-strategic PSUs. The objective of disinvestment is to either operate the loss-making PSUs by provisioning to perform capacity utilisation efficiently to achieve productivity with the available sources and alternatives or to accept private participation by the disinvestment of government shares for achieving the targets of production, productivity and cost effectiveness by optimum utilization of existing capacities or the expansion of the capacities of the entities with automation and the use of modern technology. Both options are a positive approach to turn around sick and potentially sick PSUs.
Another option is that PSUs can have a synergy by the disinvestment of government shares to prestigious and internationally renowned firms with a good brand image and output quality. A success story in this case is that of Maruti Suzuki. The car brand reveals how synergy could be created through timely strategic decisions. The success of the joint venture of Maruti Suzuki led Suzuki to increase its equity from 26% to 40% in 1987, then 50% in 1992, and further to 56.21% in 2013. Simultaneously, Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) showed remarkable performance. MUL sold about 1.20 lakh cars in FY 1993, which increased to 18 lakh cars in 2018-19, with present cash reserves around Rs 40,000 crores. Their healthy financial condition also served direct and indirect taxes of around Rs 1.80 lakh crores, created millions of jobs and supplied exports to numerous countries across the globe.
The CAG reported that 80% of 189 underperforming PSUs have eroded their capital and now account for accumulated losses of around Rs 1.50 lakh crores, which are a huge burden on the Union Government exchequer. The Union Government has tried to revive some of these entities by providing financial assistance through various measures, but most of them are still rated as underperforming. One important case study here is Air India. Although the Union Government provided it a bailout package of Rs 30,000 crores in 2012, the turnaround plan was a total failure and Air India has not shown the desired results. It continues with its operational losses with more than Rs 50,000 crores in debt.
The Union Government has kept its eye on underperforming PSUs in order to take appropriate remedial measures as per expert opinion with the consultation of the NITI Aayog. But the Vizag steel plant has now become a significant case study in the divestment in PSUs as it has taken the form of an emotional issue. Besides being an economic concern, it has established itself as a matter of Andhra pride, because it was built with the sacrifice of 32 lives in 1982. The steel factory had been established under the name Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, with the support of the USSR, in the pre-reforms era. It began with a 3.5 metric ton capacity per annum. At that point, there was a lack of private investment opportunities for the corporate sector and it had been incorporated by the Union Government as a PSU. This company has been registering operating losses (profit before taxes) continuously: in the years 2015-16 it was Rs 1,702 crores, in 2016-17, Rs 1,690 crores, in 2017-18, Rs 307 crores, and in 2018-19, Rs 1,369 crores. The exact amount of losses during 2019-20 will be known after audited financial statements are available. Moreover, during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the capacity utilization of the plant reduced 13,000 tons to 14,000 tons of metal per day as against the previous capacity of 20,000 tons.
Critics are saying that the operating losses are only due to the higher side of the raw material input cost since no mines of its own are available to RINL. Hence, intellectuals are requesting the Union Government and State Government to allocate mines for its captive consumption to make the unit profitable or merge RINL with SAIL for its sustainability, keeping in view the emotions of the people of Andhra Pradesh, especially as “Vishaka ukku, Andhrula hakku” (the Visakha steel unit is the right of Andhra).
But there is a point of contention here. On 20 May 2006, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, had appealed to the Prime Minister not to merge the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant with SAIL. The Prime Minister had shown his concern for the state by allocating Rs. 8,600 crores for the expansion of the steel plant with an intention to merge it with SAIL. But it had been stopped due to the CM’s appeal. If RINL had been merged with SAIL then, the Visakha steel factory unit of RINL might have continued as part of SAIL today, without the problem of not having its own mines.
Prior to this, the Union government under the leadership of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had provided assistance by restructuring capital two times. The first time, in 1993-94, the Government of India had converted a loan of Rs. 1,184 crores to equity capital and Rs 1,604 crores as 7% non-cumulative redeemable preference shares. Further, the Union Government had assisted with a Rs 149.40 crore loan interest waiver and converted a payable interest of Rs 791 crore into an interest-free loan. This had been facilitated to save about Rs 582 crore in interest per annum. The second time, in the year 1998, GoI had converted a Rs 1,333.47 crore loan into 7% non-cumulative redeemable preference shares to save about Rs 325 crore as interest per annum. Hence, the Union Government provided assistance as and when it was required, but the unit failed to turn around in its operating profits.
The privatization of the steel plant has caused an emotional outburst in Andhra Pradesh. However, the Union Government is concerned about the continuous losses, which will lead to the shutdown of the unit. The sacrifices of the 32 people will amount to nothing if the plant cannot be saved. The unit needs to be revived with the world-class, efficient management of South Korean steel giant POSCO. It is required to safeguard existing employees and others who are dependent on RINL. There is a lot of speculation about this proposal since the assets of RINL hold more than 24,000 acres of highly valuable lands, which may be alienated at a cheaper cost and incur huge losses for the Union Government. Meanwhile, POSCO has been approached by both the Union Government and State Government of Andhra Pradesh to express their interest in setting up the Greenfield Integrated Steel Plant in Visakhapatnam and it entered into an MoU with RINL. RINL Visakhapatnam has a 7.30 million tonne capacity plant and is a sea shore-based integrated steel plant. It holds over 24,000 acres of land with access to the Gangavaram Port, where raw materials arrive.
Earlier, POSCO had proposed a 12 metric tonne per annum capacity plant at Jagatsinghpur, Odisha at the projected cost of more than Rs 50,000 crores on 4000 acres for the Greenfield plant, with 1000 acres for developing a residential and commercial township. An MoU had been signed between POSCO and the Government of Odisha in 2005, but it did not materialise due to protests by locals. However, less than 5000 acres of land was more than sufficient for POSCO’s setup. In a nutshell, the assessment of land requirements shall be evaluated carefully and land shall be developed by the Union Government on its own for the better utilisation of resources in that local area by establishing a SEZ for auxiliary units for the proposed new steel plant with buyback tie-up and other possible future industrial development projects can be taken up. Otherwise, the decision of the disinvestment process of RINL will be black spotted and opposition parties will use it as a political opportunity against the BJP as both regional parties have already started agitations to oppose the disinvestment process in RINL by wooing people with provocative speeches. All this is just to grab the attention of the public, rather than solving the problem.
The world is now a global village and creating an environment conducive to the ease of doing business is a vital part of trade, commerce and industry. Hence, governments of all the countries need to review their priorities and align them towards inclusive growth and better living standards for all people, along with the growth of the economy. The aspirations of people have also changed over the last 70 years. Emotions are important, but in economics, the end result prevails over emotions since inclusive growth and prosperity are a priority. If disinvestment in PSUs is not done at the appropriate time, it may lead to disaster. However, the government must keep in mind public sentiments and ensure that all reasonable options are exercised before it begins the process of disinvestment.
The writer holds a degree in commerce and works as an FCA.
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HELPED US ACCELERATE THE DIGITAL JOURNEY: RISHABH GOEL AND ANAND AGARWAL
In a candid interview with NewsX in its special series NewsX India A-List, Rishabh Goel and Anand Agrawal, Founders, Credgenics shared insights from their professional journeys. Rishabh and Anand are heading India’s fastest-growing debt resolution platform by converting bad debt into good assets.
Navigating back to why they started Credgenics, Rishabh expressed, “You must be reading about a lot of these problems and newspapers filled with the non-performing asset (NPA) problem which is hampering the growth of the Indian economy. It is almost everywhere that how our problem in terms of lending is not getting addressed due to the rising NPAs and that is a common problem statement across the developing economies. So it’s not specific to India but all developing economies, be it Southeast Asia or the Middle East. Here a lot of focus was on the lending side of the business like it’s primarily a lot of tech intervention, data-driven strategies coming into the lending ecosystem, whereas collections’ was specifically untouched. It was primarily like no one was focusing on how to digitise the entire collections’ piece and lending is essentially a collections’ business. It’s easy to give money but difficult to take it back. So, we started focusing on that part of the puzzle.”
Joining in the conversation, Anand said, “When we started on the collections side most of these fin-tech companies were a part of the lending processes. We wanted to understand the entire process of collection. We saw it was manually-driven, there were no tech-driven approaches towards the collection. While everything is getting digitalised most of these collection processes were still done in traditional ways. That is where we brought technological solutions.”
To give a clearer view on how Credgenics work, Anand added, “We have a SaaS platform for enabling any lender to collect money on their phone. So we have different modules on the platform, like for example, we have a calling module, we have a communications’ module, we have a legal module altogether for the legal team to handle. So earlier maybe different teams of Collections would not be interacting with each other but now, given that there’s one single platform, the data resides on it and different teams would be able to interact in terms of Collections. So legal team performing some sort of actions would be known to the calling team and the calling team is talking to the borrower, it’s position will be visible to the legal team as well for their actions.”
Rishabh shared how Credgenics maintains a trust factor with its clients. “Covid-19 pandemic helped us a lot as it accelerated the digital journey. In the initial days, all the banks and NBFCs moved all the salespeople to collections. That was just a way around to scale collections manually for the time being. But essentially the need for a tech infrastructure to handle those volume collections became quite evident. It was not even the outbound sales, we were mostly doing the inbound sale. People were reaching out to us as we were enabling them to adopt a tech infrastructure to handle those collections. Digital adoption became clear after the pandemic and primarily why people had accepted that.”
From IIT to Bollywood, director Udai Pawar reminisces his journey
Udai Singh Pawar, in an exclusive interview with NewsX under the special segment NewsX India A-list, talked about his recent Netflix movie Upstarts and his inspiring journey from being an IITian to a filmmaker. Udai is a filmmaker and a screenwriter based in Mumbai who has worked as an associate director in movies like Airlift starring Akshay Kumar and has worked as a chief assistant director with veteran directors like Raja Menon and Sudhir Mishra.
Udai recently directed his first-ever Netflix feature film Upstarts, which has been streaming on the OTT platform since October 2019. Being an IITian, he has also worked in technology companies and left a corporate job to pursue his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Sharing his journey and passion for becoming a filmmaker, Udai remarked, “Oddly enough since I was a child, I was fascinated with video cameras and my father had one old family cameras with which I used to do experiments. I would try to do all sorts of movements, video editing, and cuts to make and form short videos. When I went to college, more of my time was devoted to studying but one day a friend of mine made me the video editor of the college club wherein I used to record and shoot events happening in college itself.”
Talking about leaving the corporate job and the courage it takes to follow one’s dreams, he said, “I think it is only here in Bollywood that you notice and appreciate the courage of people. I think it’s everywhere. My father is an entrepreneur. Many friends of mine have started their ventures. I think everyone has done their part to achieve what they want in life despite coming from different backgrounds.”
Udai’s first film Upstarts was widely appreciated and he received praises from all around the globe. When asked about the same he underlined that one of the nicest reviews he received was from Brazil that made him realise that audience views the film from their perspective and as a filmmaker he feels elated.
Addressing the issue of nepotism in Bollywood, Udai stated, “I come from a place where I had no contacts. I don’t want to say that it doesn’t exist as everyone has had different journeys. I think the actors’ job is the hardest one to do if as a director, a genre doesn’t work for me, I can easily switch to different genres be it comedy, action, thriller but an actor can’t do that. Although inherently in every industry there is some level of meritocracy, there are other factors that come into play and I understand the frustration people go through. It’s a really tough business.”
He further talked about the upcoming projects, “I have been working on a couple of different new ideas.”
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