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"I want my own radio station"

Nikhil Chinnappa on his dreams, ambitions, skills and quirks. PRINCE FREDERICK speaks to the VJ

VJ NIKHIL Chinnappa was in the city recently, interacting with those who have been bitten by the RJ-ing bug. At the radio workshop, organised by Adventures of Tintin, Nikhil was assessing the audio recordings prepared by the participants.

He was quite candid. "Why are you making a production of it? Why don't you just cut to the chase and say what you have to (say) as quickly as possible," he told one participant. "Cut that fake accent out. That'll put the listeners off," he told another. "English. English. Improve your grammar," he told yet another. "If you go on air, the listeners will drift off to sleep. Pack your voice with some energy," he picked on one more.

Later Nikhil spoke about his career, interests, adventures and misadventures. "I did my architecture degree with hospital design as the subject of my thesis. I did not have a fancy for the subject at all. I only wanted a course that did not have maths, which gave me nightmares at school. I opted for architecture, knowing little that it is crammed with mathematical concepts. But I managed to cope."

He did not, however, use this degree as a calling card. Instead, he became a radio jockey with an FM channel in Mumbai. One thing led to another and he found himself among the most-sought-after VJs in the country. Be that as it may, he has not cooled off on RJ-ing and radio-broadcasting.

"My dream is to set up my own radio station." How close is he to realising it? "I'm actually light years away. The wet blanket of the country's radio policy has smothered my hopes. The licence fee is exorbitant! Moreover, I want to create a station that will be slightly irreverent towards the Establishment. Our people are not yet prepared for something like that."

He has not turned his back on his architectural past either; he wants to put his "building" skills to use. "I am going to restructure my house in Bandra."

Taking a measure of the Amethyst's "close-to-half-timbering" architecture, he says "it is in the mould of colonial architecture."

"Interests and skills do not die, they just lie hidden." Which means he will take a few more cracks at acting (in films), notwithstanding the lukewarm response to his debut film, "Snip". "It was a madcap story of a woman, a gangster and a rickshaw puller. I played the role of a tequila-loving womaniser."

Nikhil has also appeared in a serial "Hello Friends" opposite Maria Goretti. And a Hindi film, featuring Nikhil, is in the can. "I am not bothered if it does well or not. What matters is, I had a whale of a time acting in it," smiles the multi-faceted VJ.

Nikhil finds cast-iron excuses for holidaying. "My last holiday was in Ibiza, the dancing capital of the world."

He has gallivanted across the globe, thanks to his "insatiable interest" in adventure sports. He is into surfing, sky-diving, bungee-jumping and the works. That is "my way of recharging the batteries."

Nikhil is also an inveterate reader. "I lap up anything in print." So much so that he is used to reading a book from cover to cover without bothering to find out who has written it. "Right now I am reading this book called `Tipping Point'," he says. Who is the author? He draws a blank.

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