Making A Difference – Vinay Bharadwaj
Vinay Bharadwaj never thought he’s be producing and hosting a talk show – that too with Bangalore big-wigs and celebrities – to speed the message of cancer awareness among viewers. The 32-year-old, who works in an international bank in Singapore in a strategy planning role, was happy pursuing his hobby as a fashion designer when fate dealt him a cruel hand and he lost his mother to a deadly form of cancer. As she battled the disease for 54 days while in coma, Vinay decided that he had to do something to make people more aware of how precious their life and health is. And hence, the idea to produce a talk show called Lets Talk With Vinay that’s slated to go live on an international YouTube channel next month
What do Biocon Founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, cue sport champion Pankaj Advani, Kannada star Puneet Rajkumar, badminton ace Ashwini Ponnappa, singer Vasundhara Das and dancer Mayuri Upadyaya have in common? Ask Vinay Bharadwaj, the 32-year-old banker from Singapore, whose hometown is Bangalore, and he responds. “They’ve all lost someone – a friend, a parent, a relative or someone close – to cancer and are keen to support my cancer awareness cause in any way possible.”
Having roped in 19 of the city’s most prominent names and faces to interview, Vinay, who has absolutely no background in media or production whatsoever, took it upon himself to begin his initiative to spread awareness on cancer in the smallest way that he thought best.
“It was hard for my family and me to watch my mother battle cancer – she collapsed after nine sessions of chemotherapy when she was undergoing an MRI and then slipped into coma for 54 days. The trauma of watching her slip away was unbearable. She had never had herself tested for anything, had no insurance and never thought that she would be a victim to this dreaded disease. As I watched her battle each day I decided that though there were many working tirelessly to spread the awareness message, I too had to do my bit. And hence the idea to host a talk show and speak to people about cancer and spread the message to viewers,” explains Vinay.
Once the idea took root, he began making calls, reaching out to people on social media and via email to set up appointments and convince them to be on his show. “Its remarkable how everyone responded to me… I’m not a journalist, no one even knew who I was, but they all believed in my cause and chose to support me in my endeavour.” He recalls how he was briefed by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s team and told to stick to only pertinent questions. “But surprisingly she opened up to me, empathised with me and spoke at length at how she too had lost a loved one to cancer and how she was doing her bit to spread the awareness message as well. Similarly with Puneet Rajkumar, he too spoke about how a close relative had been diagnosed with cancer, but how early detection helped save his life. These are the kind of stories I wanted to highlight and I hope that when people see my show they will understand what my endeavour has been,” he tells.
While the show takes the usual route with Vinay interviewing and speaking to people about their achievements and careers in the first segment, it is during the second segment that he gets them talking about cancer and gets their stories and messages with regard to spreading the awareness message. “I’ve even got a message from Yuvraj Singh on successfully battling cancer that will be added to one of the episodes where I’ve interviewed cricketer KL Rahul,” he tells us enthusiastically.
Presently looking to partner with a television channel as well, in order to further the reach of his campaign, Vinay is in talks with some of the leading channels and hopes that one of them would see the value in his effort and look beyond the monetary angle and come forward to pick his show. “I have produced and conducted the entire 19 episode series with Bangalorean with my own funds. There were only a few partners who saw potential in what I was doing and came on board at no cost – like Hyatt Bangalore for the venue and PN Rao who styled me. Every other expense had been paid for by me and my motive is not to make money, but to spread the message,” he tells. “As no one is presently looking beyond the money part, I shall begin with YouTube and hope this popularises the show enough for me to make more seasons with people from across the country and then move on to international shores,” tells the enterprising young man.
And when he’s not working in the bank in Singapore, Vinay indulges in a spot of designing and also has a label Shinayele, which he retails from a few stores in Singapore and Bangalore. “In fact many of the guests on my show – Ashwini Ponnappa, Anna Chandy, Vidya Pillai and Radhika Chetan were styled by me and wore Shinayele,” tells the multi-talented man.