By Seema Pherwani
Life has been an interesting dash for
Sanjay Pugalia, Editor Awaaz. An arduous
yet thrilling journey in the business
of news where the burnout rate is perhaps
the highest. Definitely not a rollercoaster
ride, but a twenty five year long career
path where Pugalia was always lured by
the desire to evolve and do something
We are sitting at the Awaaz office in
Lower Parel which is abuzz with activity.
We settle down in his cabin for a tête-à-tête,
as his recalcitrant telephone continues
to buzz and vibrate every minute. I am
all prepared for a wonderful and drawn-out
conversation when Pugalia tells me, "actually,
I've a sore throat. Meri Awaaz thodi kharab
hain." But then getting him to talk
about his channel Awaaz does the trick.
Though slightly shy and reluctant to talk
about himself, Pugalia slowly drops his
guard over a cup of steaming hot coffee
and gets talking.
Reminiscing about his early years, he
says, "My early years were all about
living in a joint business family. My
father used to deal in jute, textiles
and food grains. But somehow, I was very
sure that I didn't want to be in business.
I always wanted to do something different
that would directly deal with people and
their lives. There were other options
like being in the IAS/IPS, but I was never
serious about my studies. In fact, while
in school I used to question to myself,
as to `why were we being taught whatever
we were being taught.'
spent his formative years in Sahibganj
in Bihar. Those were the days of social
activism, the youth movement in the midst
of great socio-political changes. With
a glint in his eyes, he recalls, "the
80s were a period when the media became
extra-conscious and vigilant about democracy,
due to emergency declared by the then
prime minister. As a teenager, I was influenced
by the student movement and once happened
to catch hold of a weekly called Ravivaar
edited by the late SP Singh. That
magazine influenced me a lot and I knew
from then on that journalism would be
my calling in life."
So, inspite of stiff opposition from family
and friends, Pugalia left home, moved
to Mumbai in 1982 to join Navbharat
Times at a salary of Rs 2000. He recalls,
"it was a big decision then, because
of my business background and also because
journalism wasn't a viable career option
Listening to him tick off the course his
life has taken, I realise Pugalia has
a knack for cutting through the heart
of things which has taken him to the dizzying
professional heights he is today. Always
the one to take on challenges, he started
off with investigative stories, economic
offences and politics.
After a good ten year stint with Navbharat
Times Pugalia shifted to Delhi. Recalling
the old times, he says, "I got on
to the hot beats of politics and journalism.
And the 90s were a happening period in
terms of government change and economic
reforms. After a three year stint with
the Business Standard, he seized
another opportunity by joining Aaj Tak
as Deputy Executive Producer. He says,
"those were the times when Aaj Tak
was in the process of launching a channel.
We used to revere SP Singh as God and
when he asked me to work with him we had
to make things happen. Also, it was the
right time to be in television news; since
it was nascent and evolving."
first break as an editor came with Zee
News in 2001. He says, "this was
an opportunity to establish live television
in the country with events like the Agra
summit and Gujarat riots. Working under
Subhashji was the most enriching experience.
He would interact, give his ideas but
never would he say do this or that. We
had the complete editorial freedom there.When
the next challenge came in to launch Star
News from Mumbai, I was all set for it.
On a personal level, I was itching to
get back to Mumbai."
I ask him whether he's been a rolling
stone all his life. "Well, I did
stick around for more than ten years in
print, then five years in Aaj Tak; but
the desire to do something different is
what keeps me going. Also, one has to
be prepared to take on challenges when
the right break arrives."
Moving from the general news space to
launch a niche channel for the Raghav
Bahl promoted CNBC-TV18 was the next big
challenge. "Call it luck gain or
right timing but once when I had just
send a casual sms to Raghav; he gave me
this challenging offer. The challenge
was to move away from politics and launch
a niche within a niche."
I ask him whether he now enjoys his success?
Rather matter-of-factly, he says "I
am still a reporter at heart. But what
is exciting is I get to meet a new breed
of entrepreneurs, traders and retailers
who are shaping up our new economy."
am a peoples' person
Stress is obviously a part of the game.
But Pugalia believes in being charged
all the time. "I hardly take any
leave and believe in constantly training
my colleagues. News is a people intensive
job and fortunately I am a peoples' person.
I believe in delegating and developing
the second, third and even for that matter
the low level executives, so the process
and the system is strong. I believe, either
you're a journalist or you're not. Or
everyone who passes out of a journalism
school cannot make it as a good journalist.
"I hate Page 3 parties or for that
matter having lunch/dinner with the powerful
le crème de la crème is
not my trip. Also, money has never been
a motivating factor in my life. I am not
really brand conscious.
Over the weekends I spend time with my
wife who has throughout been very supportive
in my profession and about my odd working
hours .On Sundays we either catch up on
a movie or go for a quiet dinner. I love
to spend time at the Sea Lounge in South
I love to travel. Recently, we had gone
to drop my son for undergraduate studies
in the US. We had a beautiful holiday
when we went to Germany, Boston, and Las
Vegas. I would recommend Las Vegas to
everyone who loves to travel."
By: VICKY AHUJA
here for My life Archives