Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: Hello Vishal! Give us a short intro, a little glimpse into your world, heart and soul?
Vishal Bheeroo: I am quite bad at introduction. A journalist by stroke of accident where I chanced upon an introduction in a newspaper for sub-editor, applied and got the job. The first few months were terrible where I made mistakes after mistakes before getting comfortable. It took me a year or so before I was moved as journalist in the same organisation. It was three years of enjoyment where I discovered myself, flaws within and worked to improve myself. Professional fulfilment till the newspaper closed down one day. I was reeling under shock and started three years of struggle. It was the time I faced depression but started taking my blog seriously, the time we met on that space, became friends. I made such awesome friends during that phase. I cribbed at life but the blogging community was so supportive.
Back to myself, I am a graduate in Economics from the hip and happening Fergusson College in Pune, considered to be one of the best in India for Arts and Sciences. I am an avid reader and film buff which you must have realized by now.
In fact, movies and Amitabh Bachchan are my first love. I grew up watching his movies. Tell you a secret: I wanted to be an actor and a film maker, at the same time. But, guess it’s quite later. I enjoy reading Philosophy and trying to rediscover myself as a person, tapping my inner soul from a spiritual perspective. Though out of India right now, I have left my soul in places like Mumbai and Pune and I will see my writing are very much influenced by these places that never cease to fascinate me. In fact, the places define who I am as a person.
Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: What made you a critic? I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and I have noticed that you enjoy writing critics (which are excellent) as much as you love writing story or poems, mostly people do one of the two- they are either writers or critics. What made you become special?
Vishal Bheeroo: Haha. You are being kind to me. I don’t think I am special in that manner. I think that I write in every genre-short stories/fiction, poetry, interviews, movie and book reviews. I love reading a lot. The first book I reviewed was ‘Done with Men’, a sassy chick lit romance by a funny woman, Shuchi Singh Kalra. Since then, there was no looking back. I must say Write Tribe, which is a support group for bloggers to write were very supportive and got the book through them with inputs on the format to write reviews. Yes! It’s been a learning curve. I cannot credit myself alone for that and there were so many people involved in my journey who still support me.
Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: from where do you get the materials to critic? Do people send them to you? What about the movies?
Vishal Bheeroo: Book authors approach me to review their works via e-mail and social media. Also, the fact that I am active on websites like Goodreads and Twitter help tremendously. I started my first movie review on the blog which I created in 2007 and the first movie reviewed was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya which I watched in Pune. But, I was not serious at that time. But, my first professional film review that I did was ‘Ready’ during the time I was working as a journalist. I am thankful to my mentor and boss who gave me the opportunity. Since then, there was no looking back and I approach reviews in a professional manner, avoiding to be biased, be it books and movies. I feel it’s a creative work where professionals put lots of effort and one shouldn’t run down someone’s work just for the heck of it. Being balanced and honest in our approach is the best way to produce good work.
Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: Can anyone send you his/her books for a critic?
Vishal Bheeroo: When I am approached by someone, I normally request for three weeks to one month, the time they send their materials for review. If they agree, then we go along. If, I have too much stuff on my plate, I ask if they can wait. If the author agrees, we go ahead and if not, just too bad. I feel there is a need for certain understanding and reviewers shouldn’t promise what they cannot do for it creates a bad impression on the market.
Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: What happened to your site? Is it launched?
Vishal Bheeroo: For the time being, the web venture is on hold since my associate is busy with other work. We don’t want to rush into things but plan it well and launch when we are ready. One shouldn’t rush into things. Good planning is the key to success and one should learn from the mistakes made by others in the business.
Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: What is it about?
Vishal Bheeroo: It’s a platform for the Indian diaspora across the globe. It’s all about anything Indian, be it our home town, food, fashion, books, movies, culture, human stories and how we made it in foreign shores. What does an Indian miss at home? We want to tell an Indian story with a heart.
Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: Any plans of publishing a book? One too many of your works are very good.
Vishal Bheeroo: Ha! I’ve been trying to write a book rather unsuccessfully and will try to revive it this year after ages. You know when I see so many people writing novels, I feel that I am being laidback. But, the good thing is that there are so many blog fictions and themes that I participated for various writing festivals that I intend to turn into e-books. An e-book might come very soon. I have quite a few ideas to write a collection of short stories. As far as the book I am writing is concerned, it’s an inter religion love story set in Mumbai. First let me, dig it before it gathers dust.
Thanks a lot, Sharmistha.