After ruling the Mumbai radio scene for more than seven years, Indian radio jockeys Jaggu and Tarana are set to bring their special brand of humour to the UAE with their new show on Josh 97.8. Shiva Kumar Thekkepat talks to the duo who are set to conquer
From Mumbai to Dubai, the Indian RJs set to rule our airwaves.
O ver the seven years their popular show Good Morning Mumbai was broadcast on a radio station in India, Jaggu and Tarana have helped listeners get jobs, get together and even get married. Now they promise to create the same magic here in the UAE with their brand new show, Breakfast with Jaggu and Tarana, which will air from 6am to 10am on weekdays on Josh 97.8, starting on Sunday.
Less well known by their real names, Ashish Jagtiani and Tarana Raja, the pair had huge success in India. “Although the breakfast show we did together in Mumbai ended some time ago [in 2009], we still meet people who can recall links from the show,” says Tarana. “Lots of listeners still write to us just to say hello!”
While Tarana tends to speak in exclamations, Jaggu tries to play the straight guy. “Tarana is the drama queen to my languorous theorist, both on air and off,” says the laid-back Jaggu.
Both started their radio careers in their early 20s, in different organisations. While Tarana nursed dreams of becoming a star, Jaggu had visions of becoming a business journalist.
Tarana started off by doing news and entertainment updates on Radio Midday, while Jaggu analysed the stock market and presented finance news on Times FM. But in 2002 they found themselves doing different shows on the same radio station.
Their coming together was a happy accident: Tarana stood in for Jaggu’s usual co-host – who was on a holiday – on the drive-time show one evening. “The programming head decided that we were both nuts and deserved to be together,” says Tarana. So Jaggu moved to Tarana’s breakfast show, where they spent seven successful years making people laugh, and sometimes think seriously, every morning. They’ve interviewed a number of celebrities for their show including Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Arbaaz Khan, Neha Dhupia, Riteish Deshmukh,
Imran Khan, Boman Irani,
Gul Panag and Sameera Reddy, as well as sports stars such as Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Baichung Bhutia.
“We once even did a mock interview with Bollywood star Rekha,’’ says Jaggu. “She is a famously reticent interviewee, so on her birthday we created a set of questions that could be answered by the lyrics of the songs she featured in. So we asked the question and played out the relevant song as if in reply.
“As a twist, we also had a character wish her happy birthday in a voice mimicking Amitabh Bachchan and her replying through a song.’’ It was a huge hit with listeners.
In fact, Bollywood celebs not only vied to be on their show but were also loyal listeners. “We’ve had singer Shankar Mahadevan, director Rohan Sippy, film stars Imran Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Neha Dhupia and Suniel Shetty call into the show and participate in various games,” says Tarana. “We bullied Suniel into taking our listeners for a ride in his new Hummer, and poor Rohan Sippy was once April-fooled by us and was upset for a while!”
They’re also known for taking their show out of the studio. “We’re the only RJs in Mumbai to have hosted live radio from the offices of Vogue, The President Hotel and other such venues,” says Jaggu.
‘I love telling stories’
So how difficult is it to convey thoughts and ideas to listeners on radio?
“It’s not difficult for me,” says Tarana. “I’m quite chatty and love telling stories. If you throw in enough personal details, people listening to you make their own mental image of you and connect. Also, radio is a very personal medium. The listener believes the RJ is their friend and is talking to him or her alone.”
Jaggu adds, “What you say and the vibe you put out creates your personality, so over time listeners are able to recognise you and identify with you without having actually seen you.”
Despite the very obvious differences in their personalities – “Tarana is Type A and hyper, a real diva, while I am Type Zzzzz and relaxed,” says Jaggu. “She gets by on four hours of sleep, while I am partial to afternoon naps after a good night’s rest” – both have a lot in common, which works well for their show.
For instance, apart from being on radio together for years, both have had careers in TV. Tarana has played important characters in a number of television serials and soap operas over the years including Kasautii Zindagi Kay, Sanjeevani and Kumkum. She’s even now a part of the hugely popular show, Bade Achhe Lagte Hain, and plans to keep working on it even after moving to Dubai – flying back to Mumbai to shoot on weekends.
Tarana has also starred in a few Hindi movies such as Pyar Ke Side Effects, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Karthik Calling Karthik.
“I spent a glorious two-and-a-half years doing business television on shows that nobody remembers,” laughs Jaggu. “Tarana is invited to sign autographs and pose for pictures in any part of the world she happens to be in, while I always walk around with a pen in my pocket, ready to whip it out at a moment’s notice, in case anybody asks for my autograph. The ink in the pen has now dried up from lack of use!”
But neither of them are about to give up on radio, even if a Bollywood mogul were to make them an offer. “I would use my holiday time to shoot it, maybe weekends, even nights, but no quitting radio,” says Tarana firmly.
“Acting is being someone else, while RJing is being myself,” Tarana continues. “But I find RJing is definitely more challenging. It’s live, spontaneous, and keeps me on my toes. I’ve never been able to choose between the two so I’ve worked 18-hour days for a decade of my life, with radio in the morning and then acting at night. Thankfully, I have plenty of energy.”
While Tarana is also a trained dancer, Jaggu spends much of his spare time enjoying the finer things in life. “Good food is critically important to mankind, especially if mankind is represented by me,” he says. “I’d love to have a well-built and toned body, but I suspect I’m never going to get there.”
Jaggu’s passion is writing. Over the years he has written for publications including Vogue,
Femina, The Man, Mid-Day and Mumbai Mirror. “I usually write about contemporary topics and humour,” he says. “The subjects have been as varied as the Fomo [Fear of missing out] syndrome, profiles on achievers, a selfexplanatory column called Diary of a Fat Man, and on one special occasion, about being a woman for a day!”
Jaggu and Tarana don’t always agree. “Tarana gets upset about the wastage of natural resources, grey areas in life, two-faced men, my driving and how she looks in every new dress she buys,” says Jaggu. “I worry about the stock market, going from fat to very fat, why people don’t put things in their proper place, Tarana’s driving and how she looks in every new dress she buys!”
Despite all the friendly bickering, the crazy pair do agree on one thing: they can’t wait to get started with the new show on Sunday.
“We hope to retain our brand of humour and entertain the people of UAE just like we did in Mumbai,” says Tarana. “I think we appeal to a certain kind of person who is sensible, but doesn’t take himself too seriously and is willing to just have fun and live life to the fullest. Because we are like that too!”
After shooting to fame in Mumbai, Jaggu and Tarana will soon be waking up Dubai with their witty banter
Tarana with her co-stars of the popular Hindi soap Bade Achhe Lagte Hain. She will continue to appear in the serial, flying back to Mumbai on weekends