In search of the REAL HERO

Amrita Prasad
Tuesday, 29 January 2019

We recently caught up with Nikhil Chinapa at the Pune auditions of ‘MTV Roadies Real Heroes’. Nikhil, a well-known DJ and one of the gang leaders of the 16th season of the show, talks about what’s special this season, his views on #MeToo and so on

When asked who exactly is a real hero, Nikhil Chinapa promptly says, “Anybody who dares to live life outside the boundaries defined by society!” And, that is exactly the theme for the upcoming 16th season of MTV Roadies Real Heroes. With a new theme and a new gang leader, Roadies Real Heroes promises to awaken the hero in every  individual through real-life stories of courage, honour and bravery. Nikhil, one of the gang leaders on the show, along with actor, former Roadies winner and ringmaster Rannvijay Singh Singha, former Indian Hockey Captain Sandeep Singh, rapper Raftaar, and actor, former Roadies winner and one of the gang leaders Prince Narula was in Pune for the auditions. 

Nikhil, who is a well-known DJ and is also the co-founder and festival curator of VH1 Supersonic, seemed quite impressed with Puneites because of their unique fashion sense and some amazingly strong female contestants for Roadies. Here’s chatting him up:   

- What will be your strategy in the game this season?
Every day is a new day and every challenge is a new challenge, hence my strategy is to apply logic.

- While you are calm and composed as a person, the audience got to see your aggressive side on the show? Tell us about that.
It is a natural reaction to an action. When I came on the journey two years ago, I thought I’m just going to do my job as a gang leader, and be competitive, but the thing is, when the bell rings and when you are in that competition with your gang and fighting for them, you discover a new side of yourself which you didn’t even know existed. I would often be surprised and wonder ‘why did I react like that’ or ‘why did I say that’. But it is a very natural thing to do when you are competitive and trying to make your gang win. Also, I’m very protective about my team and I’ve enjoyed the journey of self discovery. 

- While the theme this year is ‘real heroes’, during the auditions for regular contestants, what qualities do you look for?
Logic! One has to have a logical bent of mind. S/he should have a certain thought process that allows him/ her to think through things without just blindly acting. They always say that you have to be a winner and you don’t have a second chance etc but what I have seen on Roadies, which also applies to real life, is that you can’t win every task — some can be strong physically, but may lack in general knowledge, others can be smart and artistic but may not have the muscles and so on. That said, we may lose tasks but we jump back with the same enthusiasm and energy that we had before we lost the task, and that really is a great quality. On Roadies and in life, when you lose, and are down, others, like a pack of wolves, gather around and try to attack you when you are the weakest. That’s when you need to be the strongest. If you are level-headed and have the mental strength to focus, you are never going to give up. May be you are a minute or seconds behind the contestant who is leading, but the point is you didn’t quit. Mental strength is really important. Tasks don’t finish quickly on Roadies, so it’s a matter of endurance.

- What are your thoughts on the #MeToo movement and are the women on your show being treated as equals?
One of the most powerful movements that has captivated the world has been the #MeToo movement and we’ve seen that women all over the world and in India as well, who have been molested, abused and assaulted, have got a voice and are speaking up and calling out names. They are being supported by other women and like-minded men as well. Roadies has been championing this cause for the longest time and we’ve always encouraged girls to come out and speak on cameras and tell their horrific story of abuse, assault and molestation and call out people who’ve caused them trouble and distress over the years. It’s so amazing to see that Roadies has been a part of that movement without any hidden agendas. People who have been a part of the show, whether it’s Rannvijay or Raghu and Rajiv, our values have always been in the right place. As a movement, #MeToo is powerful because it teaches women that their voice, opinions and viewpoints are important and they matter. And I think that is a huge step forward for humanity.

- With VH1 Supersonic coming up this month, what do you want to tell music lovers of Pune?
With 50+ artists, including Two Door Cinema Club, Marshmellow, Rudimental DJ, Jaden Smith and others — we’ve got an amazing mix of artists and genres coming from all over the world. I keep telling people, I don’t see a better way to spend a weekend with like-minded people with happiness and great music outdoors. Even if your favourite artist is not there, you will have a lot of amazing experiences. In fact, we are also introducing sneaker experience. Sneaker culture is such a young thing where people can talk about sneakers, try out new sneakers, do some b-boying.

- What are your thoughts on collaborating with different artists?
In the music space, when working with other musicians and artists, you get to work with others’ ideas. The fact is that the internet has made the world a small place, we can collaborate with a German/ Australian artist sitting right here in India, it makes such an awesome amalgamation of ideas. If you’ve made daal chawal all your life, and you learn that someone has made tadka, you are so open to new things. Musical collaborations are a fantastic way to get new ideas and break new grounds, and I’m all for it.

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