The Journey | Only love resonates, the rest is just noise: RJ Mantra

India’s Premiere English business news channel BTVI has launched a new series titled ‘The Journey’, presented by Hyundai, featuring famous personalities from various sectors who will share their success stories and future plans. The show will mainly concentrate on how they built their careers and stayed ahead of competition in today’s fast changing environment. 

The trendsetters, the famous personalities, the voices and faces that everyone looks up to. But it all didn’t begin that way, and this journey – starting from scratch to reach the pinnacles of success – is nothing short of inspirational. 

‘Hyundai Presents The Journey’ will be aired on Business Television India (BTVI) every Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 1.30 pm. 

Episode 1 – The Journey with RJ Mantra 

The first guest to feature on the show is RJ Mantra, a radio jockey, voice guru, actor and producer-director. Mantra has worked as an anchor on shows like ‘Zara Nachke Dikha’, ‘Comedy Circus’ and many more. He has also enacted the role of Narad in ‘Narayan Narayan – Chulbule Narad Ki Natkhat Leelayen’ on Big Magic. He is now back on radio with a premium show called ‘Lamhe with Mantra’. Here’s RJ Mantra in conversation with Swati Khandelwal Jain, National Editor, BTVI. 

You are an actor, producer, director, theatre artist, voice over artist, model. There are so many things that you do, so what is it that you don’t do?
It is all beautifully divided, but they all come under the same bracket of performance arts and that is what I prefer being known as – a performing artist. I love being called Puranjit Dasgupta, because it’s very rare that someone calls me that nowadays. It’s either when I am getting paid at the end of the month or maybe when the traffic police stops me for some violation and asks me for my licence. 

How did the name Mantra come about?
Mantra is my middle name – my full name being Puranjit Mantramugdh Dasgupta; Mantramugdh was the name bestowed upon me at an early age at the Osho Ashram with which my family has been associated for a long time. As you know, Osho was the spiritual guru of India of his time and I have followed him and the way he expressed life. I used to visit the ashram a lot and they used to give you a sanyas name, where you should leave everything that you are and enter a new life. It was something different that I started at a very young age of 14. 

When I started doing radio at the age of 19, my programming head told me that a name like RJ Puranjit Dasgupta would work if I was giving business news or some samachar; but since it was a young vibrant radio station, I was asked to come back with a name that I would like to be known as. That’s how RJ Mantra happened. 

Did you always know that you would be an RJ and that you would achieve that?
I don’t plan things. I love to be in the moment and go with the flow. I always knew that I wanted to express through my art. So, that is what I got to do through radio, television, films or whichever mediums that I came across. It really wasn’t a plan, but I always knew that I was going to be at least an orator. That is a skill I possess, because I love language. I love to listen as much as I love to express or talk. 

My voice definitely helped when I joined radio. Even radio came to me in a very strange situation. I used to be in the hotel industry before I started with the media industry. From 1996 to 2000, I was working with a 5-star chain of hotels in Indore, where I used to be in the front office. One morning I had to give a wakeup call to one of our guests and I said, “Good morning Sir, 6.30 on the clock. Hope you have a great day ahead.” The phone rang after I made the wakeup call, and it from was the same person whom I had called up moments before. He asked me who I was and said that he would like to meet me at the reception when he came down for breakfast. Till the time he showed up, I was panicking, thinking that maybe I had made some mistake. Then the gentleman came up to me and said that he was in Indore to launch the first ever private FM radio station of the country. He told me that he liked my voice and asked me if I would like to be a part of the FM revolution. 

That’s how I became the first ever private FM radio Jockey of this country. I was at the right place at the right time. But more importantly, opportunities are knocking on your door every other moment, it’s upto you to recognise and seize them or just let them pass by. 

Tell us about your years of growing up. What is the connection between Mugdh Publishers and what you are doing?
I am still a storyteller and do the same thing that my forefathers had been doing. Dasgupta Publications and Dasgupta Book Shop are legacies that I am a part of. In existence since the late 18th century, the business was started by my great, great grandfather in Kolkata’s College Street. I have never lived in Kolkata and was never in the publishing business, but my father was. He was a pioneer and he was the one first people to start the Kolkata Book Fair, which is one of the most popular fairs today. 

I come from a very reputed Bengali family in Kolkata. My parents shifted to Indore in Madhya Pradesh much before I was born, so my connection with Kolkata isn’t that strong, but I still visit my family every now and then. It is only now that my love towards my paternal business is increasing and I see myself investing more of my time in Kolkata in the coming years. My growing up days were in Indore and all that I remember is that I grew up pretty quick and started to work at a very early age. The HR manager, who hired me in those days in 1996, meets me at times and tells me that he is very proud of me and so is everyone else from the hotel industry. I earned my first buck when I joined the 5-star chain of hotels. 

You need to have an enterprising mindset, not just to make a living but also to make a mark and make a name for yourself. No matter which industry I was in, I continued to do that. You are dealing with humans here, so if you are not in the right business or you don’t know how to deal with humans, you will fail. That is the first thing that I figured out – ‘To know how to deal with people’. 

What was your motivation when you were growing up?
I motivate myself, and when I say I am self-made, I saw it not with ego but with pride. I push myself every day. I don’t need anyone else to come and tell me that I really need to succeed or that I am meant for greatness. I tell myself that I need to be someone who people would remember for the wonderful stuff that I have done. If I leave even a little positive impact on your life after this interview, my work is done.

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What is your perfect day that you spend and how do you manage with so much that is on your plate?
At times scheduling what all I need to do is tough, but I believe what the great Bruce Lee had said, “No matter where you are or what you do, just flow with it and you will always find your way, find your mark”. Of course, there crop up situations where you don’t know where to go, but you will still find ways to do it. As far as my regular day is concerned, I spend lot of time just hanging out with myself, figuring out what I have to do and just go ahead and finish them. So, work wise I know there will be days where I will be extremely busy and I won’t be able to spend time with myself, that’s why I say: “Main kaam nahi karta, main shauk palta hoon. Issliye main shaukeen aadmi hoon!” It’s my passion, a part of my life, so I am not really seeking something. 

When do you find time for your family and the people you love?
I am friends with nature. All my friends and my family are pillars of strength for me. They always suggest and advise me the best things, but I end up doing what I want to do. I do have friends and lots of lovers in my life and I love them all. I always believe that only love resonates, the rest is just noise. So, as a radio jockey I have my antenna on and I catch the right signals, the rest which is not really making sense to me, I tune it off. 

 

 

I was reading about a couple of short films that you are doing. There’s one about a boy who is very fond of cars, tell us more about what this film is all about.
Mantramugdha Productions, my production house, has produced our first film called ‘Khatara’. You may remember the old American film, ‘The Love Bug’, where a car named Herbie, which has a mind of its own, shares a wonderful bond with its owner and together they win several car races. It is an old favourite film of mine and the story has stayed with me over the years. When a filmmaker friend of mine, Divyansh, offered me this film, I said I would produce it. ‘Khatara’ is a love story between a guy and a car that his father used to drive. He runs a driving school, which is all he is left with and he doesn’t want to sell it despite being under financial pressure. How he faces all his problems is what ‘Khatara’ is all about. I won the best actor award at the Bangalore Short Film Festival for this film and also a couple of awards abroad. The film is pretty close to my heart. 

 

What are your next projects in different fields and areas?
One thing that I have realised over the years is that Mantra has different sets of audiences, viewers and listeners. I have my own podcast channel, called MNM Talkies, where I make a lot of radio dramas. My love for the audio medium continues, because I believe that you can express much more on audio than you can ever do on video, because audio is a blind man’s television. You create pictures in the mind of the listeners; you can continue to paint larger than life canvas, which not even big production houses can do. I will be launching a new show, MNM Show, on my podcast channel in January 2018. 

On television, I am doing not just comedy shows but I am also an anchor. I have been hosting the Pro Kabaddi League, which has been an absolute delight in the last five seasons. Kabaddi as a sport has grown. I love that sport and we have grown together, in fact, I am even called ‘Kabbadi Mantra’ nowadays! 

As far as films are concerned, till date I have done quite a few films, but frankly speaking, I myself would say that they were all forgettable work. None of the films that I have done I would like to write home about. However, there’s a film on Netflix, called ‘Rebellious Flower’, which I am very proud of. That’s a film we had done on the life of Osho Rajnish. 

As a producer and director under my Mantramugdha Productions banner, I have given out some four to five award winning short films all over the world. At least the whole essence of doing quality cinema is coming through. 

That apart, I do have a couple of commercial films coming up next year – a Phantom Film Production’s movie, tentatively titled ‘Drugs on the Plane’; and another film with Aftab Shivdasani. 

I am also very excited about my stage shows. Theatre takes me all over the world. I am one of the very few Indian actors to perform at the global level, at the Shakespeare theatre in London. Shakespeare himself used to perform in the 15th century. I am a Shakespearean actor,where I am doing the Hindi version of ‘Twelfth Night’, called ‘Piya Behrupiya’. It is one of the popular plays in the Indian circle right now. Then there is another play, ‘Macbeth’, which is directed by Rajat Kapoor. 

So, what are the things that you rarely do?
I have been blessed with all the wonderful voices of celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Irrfan Khan, Nana Patekar. Also, veteran actors like Dilip Kumar saab, Shatrughan Sinha. I love mimicking all these wonderful actors. I was a retro actor earlier, but then I moved on. 

What would be RJ Mantra’s one mantra for young boys and girls?
I believe the one mantra that will always work with everybody is ‘Happy to be here’. I am happy to be here, I am in this room and enjoying this conversation. I will give my everything to you right now, I am not distracted, I am with you right now – anybody who believes in that, no matter what they do, they will start enjoying it and once when they start enjoying it, it will show in their work. Anything that is being forced upon somebody is never going to bring you any fruits. Most importantly, you need to know what we look upto could be deceiving as well. A light bulb shines and so do stars, which one you look upto is what will change your perspective of life.

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