Crafting the Entertainment Industry – The Sonia Parasnis Way

Vivacious, Visionary, Valiant and Venturesome are adjectives that perfectly summarise, Sonia Parasnis, Content Head Programming/AVP at Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Ltd. We met at an event 5 years ago and hit it off instantly. Her amicable and warm manner of dealing with people hits a chord.
She is a sharp media professional who possesses the clarity of conviction, this allows her to take the right decisions at family and work. An extremely media shy person who loves to stay behind the camera, away from the limelight. Her biggest success story is Fever 104 FM  where she was the programming head for several years. She was instrumental in strategizing and planning the programming for 91.9 FM Radio Nasha, the retro radio channel as well. She partnered the vision of the management and helped the radio channel to grow by leaps and bounds. Read on to know more about this wonder woman…

Sonia Parasnis, Content Head Programming/AVP at Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Ltd. 

Tell me something about your childhood. What were the building blocks that led you to become the person that you are today?
I am the youngest of 3 sisters so my childhood was very sorted. My sisters doted on me. My mother was a working woman who encouraged us to be independent, think, read and express. Much to my parent’s dismay my expressive nature still continues, haha haha ha! We moved around a lot during my growing years and so I was exposed to different cultures and all sorts of people.

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My parents are my place of solace.

My grandmother lived with us till I was 9 and my respect for culture and tradition comes from her. We were a Marathi family who lived outside Maharashtra, thus our upbringing was always mixed. Till date my mother calls me a ‘fake Maharashtrian’ but honestly, I am a proud ghat at heart, lol.

Music, theatre, films and other cultural pursuits are respected in most Maharashtrian families and ours was no different. Part of my childhood was spent abroad and Bollywood was my source to learn Hindi. I guess that my obsession for the Hindi films and entertainment industry comes from there. Overall I was a happy child…happier when I was with my several cats 🙂

 Overall I was a happy child…happier when I was with my several cats 🙂

What made you choose this field as a career? When did you decide you wanted to make your passion your profession?

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With RJ Anuraag Pandey

I knew I wanted to be in radio when I was 9! I have recently moved from radio to a digital platform but I think that’s just an extension of what I have always known I will do. I was an average student…and trust me that really was a tough one. I come from a family of academicians, linguists, MBA’s, doctors, Engineers, all I was always interested in was music and films.
I used to learn music and sing, my dad wanted me to become a singer. But somehow that was not meant to be. I am still doing a lot of work with music and films in other areas.
I made up imaginative stories for people and was fortunate that my teachers really encouraged me.

I believe that we will be successful only if what we do is an extension of our personality.

When I started working, I thought being an on-air presenter is the best job in the world. Over the years though I realised I was having lots more fun writing scripts, thinking up ideas. Over a period of time, I realised that my ideas worked and clicked with people. It is tough to put a name to the profession I wanted to get into. I always knew that I wanted to be with music and movies…I need to have fun whatever work I do. I believe that we will be successful only if what we do is an extension of our personality.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be silly. Laugh out loud always. Laugh harder when the joke is on you.

I could never see myself in a 9-5 job. Not that people who do it are wrong or sad, it is just not for me. I need to be jumping up with excitement every time I know there is a big idea about to happen. I need to feel the passion for what I am doing and I am passionate about music and movies. If you were to ask me what is the most important thing needed for success, I would say it is having the passion for what you do.

Do you think even today women find it harder to succeed?
img_6497One of the biggest challenges that every woman faces at any point is the grief she gets from other women. Whether it’s the cliched mother-in-law or the female boss or just insecure colleagues and other relatives.
Women find it very easy to judge other women. If you are more successful you must be sleeping with the boss, if you are not it must be because you are fat or don’t know how to dress well. I think it’s very important for every woman out there to consciously correct herself and stop herself from doing this. I am not a feminist I am what I call an ‘Equalist’. I think it’s very important to realise that your insecurities cannot be tackled by pulling others down, they can only be worked on by correcting yourself.

Women find it very easy to judge other women. I think it’s very important for every woman out there to consciously correct herself and stop herself from doing this.

How did you overcome your limitations?
I was a very shy child. But if you are part of the entertainment industry, that’s not going to get you anywhere. There were times when I had to literally push myself out of the house to go socialise with office people. They were nice people but I was too shy. I knew it was important to connect with the people with whom you share a vision so, I just worked on myself.
I am very grateful that I have always had my family to support me. My parents and sisters have stood for me like a protective wall. I have also been very lucky to have had some great friends in my life.

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I knew it was important to connect with the people with whom you share a vision so, I just worked on myself.

How different are you in your professional life from your personal life? Tell me something about your role as a daughter, sister and friend.
I am not very different. I believe I am an extremely emotional person and there is a lot of heart in everything I do and say. As a daughter, I am very very protective towards my parents and as they get older this feeling just intensifies. My father is my weakest point and my mum, my strongest :).
As a sister, I can be a brat cause that’s what the youngest ones are supposed to be right? But even though the entire family is spread across the world, we are very protective towards each other and very attached.
As a friend, I am always there. I hate it when people I love are hurting. So even though I space out at times, I am always around if something isn’t going right in a friend’s life.

I love mornings…I like lazy breakfasts 🙂

Do you believe in God? What is your relationship with God?
I believe that God is up there, always looking out for me and protecting me. I always believe in Karma. Recently I have started practising Nichiren Buddhism. This philosophy has actually strengthened my relationship with myself.

Who is your role model? What qualities of your role model did you apply in your real life?
I have several role models and I am learning from them all the time. My mum is one of the most positive souls around me. She has a great sense of humour, is independent and an amazing person. My dad, he doesn’t think twice before helping anyone. My sisters are strong, independent and very intelligent. I always turn to them whenever I need someone to slap sense into my head.

I think success is very relative. Just focus on doing what brings you immense joy, focus on your relationships with people…everything else will just follow

Your views on marriage and companionship…
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I don’t think a man needs a woman to feel safe or secure. I think a woman wants a man for exactly the same thing a man needs a woman – Love, friendship, companionship, someone you can have fun with, someone with whom you can be vulnerable without coming across as weak, someone who cheers you up when you need cheering up, someone who leaves you alone to fight your battles but always has your back…Marriage is a commitment to yourself first.

I am beginning to realise that every one of us has to go through certain things at our own time- heartbreaks, the loss of loved ones, learning from our mistakes.


—As told to Mayura Amarkant

Is there a question or a message that you wish to convey to Sonia? Let me know in the comments section. Don’t forget to like and share this post if she inspired you.

This is the 11th interview in the #StayInspired series. Here are the rest:

  1. #StayInspired – 1: Dreams keep people alive
  2. #StayInspired: Marriage is a warm & intimate cocoon
  3. #StayInspired: Born today, 4 Inspiring people
  4. #StayInspired: When I was 13, my grandma wanted to marry me off
  5. #StayInspired: God rejected my death
  6. #StayInspired: Meet the Dhoni of Indian Corp Comm & PR
  7. #StayInspired: He is the original TaxiMan of India.
  8. #StayInspired: The ‘Vamana’ of Alternative Medicine
  9. #StayInspired: Making Indian education ‘student-friendly’: Meet the new-age Lord Macaulay
  10. #StayInspired: Meet the travel industry’s ‘Y factor’ – YusuF Poonawala

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12 comments

  1. Such a great interview Sonia and love how you say you are a Ghat at heart. Mayura, you done such an amazing interview and she gave fab answers to the amazing Qs about being shy, and how she overcame it.

    Like

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