In such a large world, we meet some people, who we may have not interacted with many but those who leave a lasting impression. And when someone comes across with vibrating positive energy and loads of talent.. i bet you can’t miss!!! So, today’s story is of someone who has been in my underlying memory, for a while now. I was instantly wooed by her energy which i bet cannot go un-noticed 🙂
I knew her as my husband’s classmate, met her a couple of times, witnessed her talent few times and was acquainted enough to be friends on Facebook. Then..thanks to FB that I have been following all the wonderful things this multi faceted woman does in her life! And of course, I was more than excited to deep dive into her interests and feature her on my blog!
So, here you go.. Meet the multi talented Priyanka Das Gupta and see how she juggles between her day job, singing and acting!
How do you introduce yourself?
I rarely ever introduce myself in terms of my interests on first meetings! However, if there is a friend present when I am introducing myself, he/ she often quips in a little trivia about me (no, I do not pay them to do it :P) A typical ‘Hey, I’m Priyanka, I am a friend of so-and so.. ’ is sometimes followed by ‘Oh, and she is the girl who sang that song on Youtube that <common-friend name> shared, did you see it? Or ‘She is also a singer’ or ‘I know you like plays, did you watch her plays?’ or some such thing.
The most bizarre introduction a friend of mine gave was ‘she is a left handed singer but she is not a left handed instrumentalist’ – I find this one particularly funny.
Briefly tell me about your childhood, school, college and of course ISB days!
I was brought up in good old Culcutta, where life was slow and the schools really good then! I lived in a colony and there were around 15 other kids who were around the same age (give or take 2-3 years). I guess we were really lucky that way, because we were a big gang of kids who loved to play. Our neighbourhood was also one of the safest, so we were always running around, riding bicycles and moving in and out of our large colony.
Having said that, leaving Calcutta to pursue my undergrad in Bangalore was an awesome decision, because I learnt to live on my own terms early in life. Once I got over that perpetual feeling of homesickness, college was so much fun! I was heavily into extra-curricular activities, be it dance, music or theatre. I rarely studied (who studies in engineering anyway?) and made up for that by pulling all-nighters just before exams.
ISB was one of the best experiences I have had in my life! It was like – take ten years of your life, think of all major life experiences that make a person, condense those into one year, teleport yourself into the ISB campus with that one year of condensed experiences, and voila! You have ISB! I am not sure if that made sense? I did everything and more in ISB, just like everyone else there! Midnight assignment submissions, going to 8 AM classes with 2 hours of sleep, group work, parties that went on till morning, maggi and chai at DLF at 2 AM, placement stress, exam stress, you name it stress… I also pursued my art full time during that one year, so you must imagine how busy I was! I was acting with a theatre company called Dramanon and we had shows throughout the year, I was singing with the ISB band, I also sang in Hard Rock Hyderabad, I staged the Vagina Monologues with 17 women students and staff in ISB as part of the 1 Million Rising Campaign. That one year was enough to take the wind out of even a hyperactive person like me but phew, what a year.
What is your day job? Are you enjoying it?
I am working as a Senior Manager for Partner Management at Payback India at the moment. My primary role is to design customer engagement plans for the partner, execute campaigns, front-end analytics projects for customer insights and segmentation that go as an input into the engagement planning. My objective is simple: customer acquisition and retention for this retail format, driving business revenue targets. Serious stuff, and my work and my professional persona is different from how I am outside work. It is challenging, we often have stressful targets and deadlines, and things move very fast! But it appeals to my analytical side and I love my work.
I think you are part of a music band! How did your journey with music begin? Are you a trained singer? (You write songs too? )
Alas, I am no longer part of a band now! But I do collaborate with musicians! (you should check out some of our Youtube and Myspace collaborations). My journey with music began at age 4, when I went and sang to my mother’s music teacher and told her I could sing too. Of course I could not sing then, but I was a cheeky kid with no stage fright and a good ear for music. Most of what I picked up is by ear. I once wrote a children’s musical and yes, I did write songs for that! But I haven’t really written songs for adults. Although that might change in the next one year, since have been discussing song writing with a fellow musician who I collaborate with quite often.
When did you realize your love for the theatre and stage! How do you get yourself into it? Do you only act or direct too? How many plays were you part of? Are you with a particular group now?
Theatre again happened very early in life when I realized that I had no stage fright. It started with Durga Puja events in my housing colony, and I danced and acted to my heart’s content at these events!
I auditioned for the dance and theatre teams in college and made it into both. In fact, dance happened before theatre. I was briefly dancing for the college dance team and then professionally (Free style dancing). Professional theatre happened a couple of years after that, and I loved it so much that dancing kind of phased out of my life! My first professional play was in 2005 in Alliance Francais and there has been no looking back since then.
I have been part of may be 10 to 12 theatre productions since 2005. There have been periods of no theatre when I was working abroad, but apart from that, it has been a steady 1-2 productions a year. I have been part of many groups but there are some core theatre professionals who I end up working with more, because of our professional dynamics. I have mostly acted, but I have written two plays! One was a Children’s Musical called The Arabian Nightmares and another was this play on relationships called Bedtime Stories. Both did really well, and I have been meaning to write more plays. I guess I have been part lazy and part constrained for time! The only time I directed a play was the Vagina Monologues with ISB students and staff, but I find acting and writing more my thing.
I see that you are an avid book reader! What kind of books do you read? Can you list your five top favorite?
I am a fiction reader through and through! And I read all the time! I have many favorites so I will list some of the recent reads in the last 1-2 years that left an indelible impression:
- The KingKiller Chronicles (Patrick Rothfuss)
- The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes)
- Em and the Big Hoom (Jerry Pinto)
- What we talk about when we talk about love (Richard Carver)
- Millennium series (Stieg Larsson)
Also, I must say.. I love your sense of fashion J So refreshingly new! What do you say about that?
Well, thank you so much! I wear things that suit my personality and I never EVER wear something that I am not comfortable with. For example, shoes that bite, uncomfortable heels, clothes that don’t breathe etc. are a complete no no. I love my dresses and my canvass shoes, my floral skirts and my quirky tees, my bohemian pantaloons and my kurtis. My collection of canvass shoes especially. I wear them even in places where everyone else wears heels, who wants to totter when one can dance and skip? 😀
And now… How do you balance your time to work, sing and act?
It is tough, tough tough. I have to plan my work and my rehearsal schedules to the last detail, especially since we have rehearsals every single day for 1-3 months before a production. Singing is slightly more easy because I can practice on my own. The bottom line is planning well really, and being on your toes.
Is/are there any specific incidents/people in your life that motivate/inspire you?
My mother was my first motivator so to speak! She never compared me with other kids, always supported me when I was running off to some theatre or dance or singing practice and never fretted about grades. The irony is, I still found time to study and didn’t do too badly in school. People who find time to do things that they love inspire me. Resilience in people inspires me, because it takes resilience to find time to do that thing you have been planning to do, after a hard day’s work. Perseverance too. For example, a friend was recently diagnosed with diabetes and the doctor said she will probably have to be on meds for the rest of her life. In three months she completely changed her lifestyle, lost weight and was no longer diabetic. That inspired me.
If I ask, what’s your priority in all the work you do? What would that be like? Would you let go off anything!
The one thing about priorities is that they change. For now, I am happy building a career in sales and marketing at my own pace, collaborating with musicians, doing 1-3 quality productions a year, and most importantly, spending time with my boyfriend, friends and family, surrounding myself with people that make me happy. Do I need to let go off anything really? J I believe we can all have a balance of things we want, as long as we do a little bit of everything and cut out the rest.
Lastly, what are your goals ahead?
Yes. Travel! See the world, soak in different cultures, spaces, sights! Wheeeeeee!! 😀 😀 😀 😀
Isn’t there a positive spark in her words too!!!… As she puts it, she is truly positively hyper active.. Many people, I met over the series, pursued their profession at that moment, had thoughts of giving up at some point to their passions. Priyanka, is one of the few, I met who, without hesitation said “Do I need to let go off anything really?” and thats surely is the biggest motivating take away from this conversation for me! Did I mention? She is a dog lover too 🙂
Do look out for her music videos here and don’t forget to say Hi to her when you see her at the theatres near you.