I Have Always Used My Voice For A Living: Mihir Joshi On Juggling Many Roles In Entertainment Industry
One must be ready and willing to ride out the difficult times - consistency and quality is key, whether in the digital or physical model, says Mihir Joshi.
It is not easy donning multiple hats of singer, talk show host, emcee, commentator and general live wire in the field of entertainment. Yet, Mihir Joshi does it with élan. In a career spanning 17 years, Joshi has moved from one sphere to another, while staying true to his defining characteristic – his voice.
In this candid chat with Everything Experiential, he opens up about his offbeat career choice, his association with ShowCase Events and the exciting things he is currently working on.
When and how did you decide to venture into the entertainment industry?
I come from a Maharashtrian family, where most children are encouraged to pursue nose-to-the-grindstone careers like becoming doctors and engineers. And so, I too went to an engineering college. Music was always important to me, but I knew I wanted to build my career in music when I became the lead singer of my college band. To get a break, it was important to know people in the industry, and the only musicians I knew were my college mates. This made me venture into the outlet that was open – I joined FM Rainbow as an RJ in June 2004.
That’s when I realized no one was supporting Indie music on radio, so I began interviewing indie artists, which was a new concept for that space. This led to me meeting people and eventually I formed bands with some of them. After multiple different bands, I settled on the final one, which is ‘The Mihir Joshi band’. In 2014, we launched our first album, ‘Mumbai Blues’, which did well, and even won us the GIMA award for Best Rock Album in 2015. Since my son’s birth a couple of years ago, I’ve been on a sabbatical as a singer, but now I’m finally getting back. I’ll be releasing my first Hindi single this year in collaboration with Leslee Lewis, and I’m really excited about it.
Meanwhile, after spending 5 years at FM Rainbow, I moved on to Radio One, where I continued to interview singers and artists for the talk show ‘One Mumbai, One Music’. I became known as the guy who has interesting conversations, but when Radio One transitioned from Hindi to English, I decided to carve my own path, instead of sticking with radio. Back then the internet was not all-pervasive like it is now. If you were an RJ in Mumbai, only Mumbaikars tuning in at that time slot, would hear you. Also, there was no way of recording or replaying the episode, which meant people were missing all these great conversations I was having on my shows. I wanted these meaningful conversations to stay for posterity.
So, I decided to shift to YouTube with my own talk show - ‘The MJ Show’ - in August 2013, where I invited prominent and popular guests. Its 7th season, or the ‘Lockdown Season’ as I call it, began on March 30, 2020 and has featured nearly 250 different guests in just over a year! I want ‘The MJ Show’ to become India’s biggest talk show, similar to shows hosted by Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. Interestingly, in the last few years, artists or their management teams and TV production houses, have been reaching out to me with requests to interview their actors and artists.
I’ve also done a lot of anchoring. In India, unfortunately, English music is not a viable career option. You certainly can’t make a living out of it and so, I began emceeing to augment my income. I’ve been doing it for nearly 17 years and I thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve hosted events for the biggest brands and artists and even global sports entertainment giant, WWE. That led to me becoming a Hindi commentator for Sony Sports India on their channel Sony Ten 3. My Hindi WWE commentary is something that I’m particularly fond of – because WWE was a big part of my growing years, it is incredibly thrilling that I’m now one of the voices that millions of fans in India are listening to.
How do you juggle so many roles? What’s the secret?
All these roles seem diverse, but for me it’s just about following my passion. They are all things I genuinely love. If it was a matter of just earning money or doing a job, I could have done other things which were easier, and didn’t require me to wake up at 3:30 am, like I do for my WWE commentary!
As for ‘The MJ Show’, in my opinion, that is the biggest thing I’ve created in my life. The goal is to make it bigger and have it reach as many people as possible. It is a matter of finding the right partner to take it to the next level and I believe it will happen. This is the biggest investment I’ve made in myself and I know it will pay off. I see myself hosting ‘The MJ Show’ for another 20 years at least. I’d love to retire eventually having created a massive body of work and a legacy that my son can be proud of.
Of course, I have to credit my family too. My wife Neha is very understanding and has always been super supportive, from when I was making very little money to now when we’re doing relatively better. She understands my passion, and even managed me for many years. She travelled with me too and really encouraged me to do many different things and helped me do them well.
If you had to pick the thing you love the most from your different careers – what would it be and why?
A few years ago, I would’ve definitely said singing, but now when I reflect, ‘The MJ Show’ is something I’m tremendously proud of. I believe I’m archiving the current history of music and entertainment, as I’m speaking with the biggest and best singers and artists. This interesting perspective was given to me by the legendary Joe Alvares. He told me that my videos could be study material for so many people in the future, to help them learn about singers from this era. I don’t know if it’ll reach that level, but I’m really enjoying documenting the lives of some of the finest artists of our time.
Tell us about your journey with ShowCase Events? How did you meet Nanni Singh and how did you come on board as the emcee for ‘Sounds From The Desert’?
I met Nanni in my role as a singer, when she was with Genesis Foundation and organized the Kasauli Rhythm & Blues festival. We instantly hit it off and it felt like I’d known her for years. She’s especially fond of my wife and my son Neil. She soon realized that I’m also a good anchor and had me host a lot of the events that Genesis Foundation did. When she started ShowCase Events she asked me to be the host of her first property ‘Sounds From The Desert’. She is almost like family to me, and she’s a thorough professional - a real joy to work with. I also hosted the CEO networking event she did for Hindustan Times.
Hosting ‘Sounds From The Desert’ in Mumbai and Delhi was great, and had the pandemic not played spoilsport, I’m sure we would’ve taken it across the world. It was an amazing concept. Atul Churamani and Nanni have curated the songs and visuals so well, and it was great to be the chosen storyteller for it.
Any exciting projects in the works?
I’ve just started a new project with SkillBox, a leading events platform and artist community. They partnered with Fever FM to raise money for the ‘Umeed Project’ and ‘Divine Touch’, two NGOs that have been working tirelessly to help people affected by Covid, and they reached out to me to partner on the ‘The MJ Show’. Every Saturday and Sunday till July 31, I’ll be interviewing fantastic artists from the industry, and the show will stream on the SkillBox platform with the audio simultaneously playing on Fever FM. Eventually the episodes will be available on my YouTube channel. Interestingly, after a gap of nearly 8-9 years, I’m back on radio! Plus, the Hindi single I mentioned, is in the works, and of course I’m into year four of my commentary with WWE.
What advice do you have for people just entering the entertainment industry, especially as they navigate hybrid phygital models?
I advise everyone not to get into the entertainment industry unless it is a crazy obsessive passion for them - only if they can’t imagine doing anything other than being an entertainer in whatever capacity. Also, they must be ready and willing to ride out the difficult times - consistency and quality is key, whether in the digital or physical model. There is no easy way to fame and fortune.
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