Jilesh Desai is radio jockey on Radio Tarana is New Zealand’s leading Indian Broadcaster. He also plays the character of a Gujarati mother in several popular Youtube videos. Desai earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management Auckland Institute of Studies and is a qualified chef, but quit his culinary path to pursue a career as an RJ. Excerpts from an interview.
1. How did you become a radio jockey? How did you come up with the character of the typical Gujarati mother?
I started my career in the city of Mumbai itself. I used to work with Manish Paul initially as his assistant, hosting shows with him and all. Later on, I went to New Zealand to pursue my higher studies and got offered the job of being an RJ at Radio Tarana. Regarding the Gujju mother character, it was on the spur of the moment. Tusshar Kapoor had come to promote one of his movies, so in order to make the show houseful, we came up with an idea of enacting a Gujarati play as there were a majority of the Gujju people staying in that locality & thus promoting Tusshar Kapoor’s movie. It was my brainchild.
2) It’s quite trendy these days to use colorful language and talk about controversial topics. Are you careful about how you conduct yourself on air?
The kind of programme we hold carries a certain sense of responsibility along with us. It is seen by the people of all ages, right from the children to the old age people. So the kind of language we use, influences a lot of people, hence we always make it a point that we avoid inappropriate language/words at all costs & be as decent as possible.
3) What kind of topics do you cover on Radio Tarana?
For the radio programme, as I mentioned earlier, we focus on covering the current affairs because the listeners prefer that.
For the Gujju mom – It has always been a mix of all the real life incidents which happen almost in every household. Hence, they are so relatable to the audience & are widely accepted by them. So, in the future too we look forward to covering more such issues.
4) Do Lipsaa and you discuss what you want to do next with the Gujju mom character?
We always look up for the real life incidents which are relatable. We always keep on observing our surroundings, & if at all we come across any such topic which we feel is valid for making the video, I start writing the episode, keeping in mind to make it offbeat as possible, and then discuss it with Lipsaa once the episode is written.
5) Do you think Gujarati mothers, or for that matter, Indian mothers, are overprotective?
Yes, such parents do exist. They keep hold of their children since they feel that the world is too safe for their children to live securely & comfortably. But, when the right time will come, they will eventually relax.
6) What inspired Lipsaa and yourself to come up with the videos?
We always look forward to the fact that always a social message is given at the end of each video in order to you know penetrate through the pseudo-mentality communication between the mother & daughters, and slowly & gradually it is increasing & I do feel that our videos are making a difference in the society & we are being able to contribute to the society in a good way. So yeah this is how we got inspired to make such videos.
7. Have you received any negative feedback with respect to your Gujju mother character?
Nothing as such because as I said, we always avoid using inappropriate language which might hurt anybody’s sentiments, and avoid covering topics like politics or religious ones on the video as well as radio programmes, keeping it neutral for all age of people.
8. Did your family members oppose your decision to make your career as an RJ abroad & not in India?
Initially, nobody except my mom. When I was very young, I used to stay in Australia, after completing my 12th standard studies I shifted to NZ for my higher studies and have been here for 10 years now. After my relatives and peers started praising my work in front of my mom, she warmed up to the idea and loves it now.
9. What topics do aim to cover in your radio programme?
We always emphasize the current affairs. However, in the future, we are looking forward to launching a new radio station at Radio Tarana, which will be streamed only on the web via an application on mobile, and not on the local radio frequencies.
10. What are your future plans?
In a couple of years from now, I plan on being mentioned in a book of records for hosting a radio programme continuously for 100 hours which no RJ has done ever, haha! Also, retiring from the entertainment industry after some years & pursuing a career in theatre, which is my passion.