I Will Call My Journey-Luck By Chance

In our first interview of this series, we look at the professional journey of Ravin Kundu and what makes him among the most sought-after emcees in the country today


With a talent for captivating audiences and infusing events with energy, Ravin Kundu has mastered the art of engaging crowds and ensuring memorable experiences. In this interview, we look at the professional journey of Kundu, the lesser-known anecdotes, and expertise that make up the life of an emcee, and more.


Can you share with us how your journey as an EMCEE began? What inspired you to pursue this career path? What was your first gig as an EMCEE?

Honestly, it was luck by chance, I was looking for opportunities where I could earn part-time after my board exams. A friend said Pepsi is looking for volunteers for a new drink to be sampled. For the first few days, I was a volunteer helping in the giving out samples, on the fourth or fifth day the emcee was on a lunch break and the client showed up at that exact time, and the entire company was panicking. I saw the opening and I took my shot, I volunteered to do it for them. It went well and they offered me an emceeing job for their next project starting the following week. 

So that was 14 years back and honestly, there were no plans to be an emcee professionally, because when I was growing up, we only had Doordarshan, eventually you got to see channels like MTV coming up with these DJs and emcees. When I saw this, I realised okay this is something interesting and I would like to do it. 

Professionally, an inspiration for me was Cyrus Broacha, when I saw him doing MTV Bakra, I saw that guy making a fool out of himself and others and making money from it and I thought dude this is what I do without a camera, I would love to do it with one. 

You've had experience as a TV host, sports presenter, and corporate presenter. How do these roles differ, and what unique challenges do each of them present?

Honestly, TV hosting is very restricted, you have a script, and you must recite it to the dot. It's easy because you’re essentially just reading something out loud but it's difficult in the sense that there's no room to breathe and to improvise, it's not you, it's not your words. Eventually, as you get experienced to learn how to present a script so that it feels natural. 

Sports presenting does not allow you to play around with a lot of topics, you need to stick to one thing. I have had experience playing sports which made it easy for me to feel the emotions, the pressure, and the situation the players are going through and then talk to them on that humane level. It's very important to understand the psyche of the players and the sport, luckily, I had a background in sports, so it was a relatively easy transition for sports presenting.

Corporate presenting gets a little dry and mundane because there are a lot of no-go zones. You need to find your niche and identify loopholes where you can create some magic. Finding space to stay within corporate limitations but also creating a wow factor for the audience is quite challenging. 

The more you're backed up against a wall, and keep pushing yourself, I think something extraordinary comes out of you.

Working with major media networks like MTV, Star Sports, Sony Ten, and CNN must have been exciting. Can you tell us about some of your most memorable moments or experiences during your time with these organizations?

MTV was my first television gig. It happened out of the blue, an event management company from Mumbai contacted me regarding a music concert and I thought this was just another music concert. But when I landed in Kolkata (where the gig was) they told me this is for MTV, and I was like dude are you serious? I was supposed to host the festival for three days and collect sound bites from actors and guests about their experience at the event. 

The Ultimate Karate League was happening for the first time in India, and Sony Ten called me to be the in-stadium emcee. I was supposed to hype up the crowd and make announcements. From the first day, the producer liked me, he asked me to be the commentator from the next day. He liked my commentary and asked me to do the hosting too. 

You just fumble into these cool spaces, with these cool people and it's unexpected, that's what makes it memorable. 

What are some of the most significant changes you've observed in the industry since you started your career as an EMCEE?

When I started out, emceeing was an offshoot of advertising. Advertising companies realised the potential of on-ground marketing. Honestly, it was a monopoly with a few players running the whole show. There was no industry as such or no parameters, there was no professionalism. But gradually over the last 14 years, I have realised that especially after the pandemic, the industry consolidated, and it became a proper industry. 

The monopoly structure is still there, it needs to be broken. A small number of big brands have a huge market share, there's a lot of exploitation of artists and vendors. I do see the democratisation of the industry happening slowly and gradually.

With the growth of virtual events post-pandemic, how do you juggle between hosting virtual and live events?

During the pandemic, it was all virtual events. Just speaking about the events I’ve done for BW and E4M, I’d say 50 to 80 is a good bet. After the pandemic, virtual events are few and rare. Ninety per cent of events now are live and maybe 10 per cent of events are virtual. The virtual platform is now mostly used to create buzz around big live events. 

Hosting live events can be unpredictable. Can you recall a moment when something unexpected happened, and you had to think on your feet to turn it into a funny and memorable experience for the audience?

When something that was not planned happens and everyone's losing their minds, that's when you get the chance to shine. I was doing a massive launch for a mobile brand and the electricity of the hotel shuts down and the LED is now off mid-launch. They have their Asia head, India head, and a Bollywood star on the stage. The electricity comes back after three seconds and the first thing I say is "Who did not pay the electricity bill on time?". And the audience laughs. Addressing the issue makes audiences sympathise with you, honestly, it's all about the presence of mind. 

What do you think sets apart an exceptional EMCEE from an average one?

Honestly, an average emcee is someone who's just getting up on the stage doing their bit reading their script, and then coming off. An exceptional emcee will take over the stage and will take the show like it's their own show. You take responsibility off the stage and on the stage. So, you run the show in the most flawless manner not just for the audiences but also for your back-end team. Exceptional emcees of course need to be entertaining, to be on your toes to foresee and improvise during unexpected scenarios.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as an EMCEE, and how have you overcome them?

I just started wedding hosting 2 years back after the pandemic, and I realised that around 80 per cent of the clients want a female emcee. The reason is glamour, they want an emcee that looks beautiful. That's a bias and prejudice we have especially in Indian society. To overcome this, I started creating my own modules, I started family bonding sessions where I created games and activities so that everyone got engaged. No one was doing it back then; I doubt anyone is doing it even now. I think you must create your own USPs to overcome challenges.   

What do you think are the drawbacks of being in this profession?

Like most other performing art forms, the downside is there is no predictability or safety of a traditional job. That means uncertain income, odd and sometimes (mostly) long work hours and any brand entrusting you with being their face and telling their story comes with the responsibility to deliver every single time, you just cannot have an off day at work. That is pressure.

What is the scope of making a career in a profession like this one in the events industry?

Honestly, it’s just like any other industry, it depends on the individual. If you bring value to the table, you get a seat at the table. And as with all performing art forms, you're a performer you need to own the responsibility of delivering nothing but the best every single time you take the centre stage. You need to learn to prove your worth consistently to your marketplace. There is scope, it just is not easy though. Having said that, there is no ceiling if you're willing to put in the hard work required to craft your skills and talent. 

To err is only human. Tell us about an on-stage epic fail that still makes you cringe.

I froze on stage! That might sound perfectly normal to someone who thinks public speaking is a nightmare. But for a seasoned emcee, it's truly a nightmare. While hosting for an artist I’m a massive fan of, backstage my legs were shivering, I went up in front of an audience shaking and couldn't say a word for almost a minute.

If you could, what would be your advice to yourself as a newcomer in the industry?

I have met some amazingly talented people who aren't confident about who they are. The only piece of advice I'd give to anyone is to have faith in your talent and above all have faith in yourself. In general, up your communication game, the more languages you know the better. You need to improve your diction; you need to pronounce every brand correctly be it a French brand or a German one. Any technical expertise will always come in handy. Finally, be humble, and have gratitude, if it's outside of your comfort zone relax it's part of the process. Enjoy the ride.

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