''We can now read each other’s minds” quips Tarana Raja about her colleague, co-host and friend, Ashish Jagtiani aka Jaggu. The duo, hugely popular radio personalities and anchors back home in Mumbai, have made the UAE their home for the last few years. After a stint in radio here, the Jaggu-Tarana pair has now entered television, thanks to COLORS CricQuiz, a cricket-based quiz show that premiered in March on Colors TV Middle East & Africa and airs every Sunday at 8pm. Their chemistry is evident as they chat and quiz their way into the audience’s hearts.
What excites you most about the new show?
Tarana: The fact that we get to interact with people face to face vs just over the phone on the radio! Plus our cricket knowledge is improving by simply hosting the show! We’re now full of fantastic trivia.
Jaggu: A couple of things were, getting to introduce and interact with quizzers who know the game inside out; there’s a lot to learn from their knowledge and passion. The other angle is that it allows Tarana and I to take what we do on radio into television. We’ve done television separately, but aside from the odd interview, we haven’t done TV together. To explore another platform together was fun.
Tell us a little more about your interest in cricket. Who are your favourite cricketers and what’s the craziest thing you have done to watch an important match?
Tarana: Like any good Indian kid I’ve been brought up on cricket. My father used to make me and my sister watch every match India played anywhere! I loved ‘dada’ (Sourav Ganguly) and good ol’ Dravid. Of the newer lot, I do think Virat Kohli is the new Captain Fantastic! I’ve once taken a boat, auto, then train and cab, and then finally run the last few kilometres to watch an IPL match at Wankhade (stadium)! I was shooting in Madh island which from Wankhade is like Fujairah to Dubai time wise and my shoot was delayed! Such stress!
Jaggu: I don’t follow the sport as avidly as some of our quizzers. For instance, I don’t have stats at the back of my head for each cricketer who has played for the past three decades as some of them do! But at the big matches, I’m excited. My craziest cricket story is actually a post-match one. When India won the 2011 World Cup, everybody poured out onto the streets, the traffic and crowds were insane. There was a point where in the middle of that circus I started directing traffic at a fairly messed up junction. Later that night, from sheer exuberance I was running down the road without my shirt on (not a pretty sight!). Tarana threatens to show people a photograph of that sometimes!
How do you explain your chemistry on air as well as on stage?
Tarana: We’ve been hosting shows together since 2002. By now the chemistry is well set. Hosting together is almost as easy as talking to ourselves. We can now read each other’s minds! Before a show, I go over the script and take some time to just sit by myself to centre my thoughts.
Jaggu: It’s really about two close friends who’ve known each other for years and hit it off from day one. On some things we are on the same wavelength, on others we have diametrically opposite views. If there is a script, we go over it separately and then together. On our regular radio show, we each come with some ideas and stories that we want to talk about, but we don’t tell the other! The idea is to run with the spontaneous reaction and banter.
You have been in the UAE for a few years now. What do you miss the most about life in Mumbai?
Tarana: The affordability of things!! On a serious note, I miss acting. I used to act regularly.
Jaggu: Mumbai has been home to me for pretty much all my life before we shifted to Dubai, so there are old friends and bonds there of the kind I haven’t developed here because I haven’t been here long enough. I miss the old bonds.
What are the things about Dubai that never cease to amaze you?
Tarana: The fact that things get done here so quickly! We moved here in October 2013. They announced the Dubai canal then and within a few years, managed to lift Sheikh Zayed road to let water flow under it! Unbelievable!
Jaggu: Even though I come from a fairly bustling metro, I’m always amazed at the many things there are to do at any given time in Dubai. Driving at 120, even though I’ve been doing it daily for three years now, still tickles me! I’m amazed that rents haven’t come down more! And I’m always pleased with the number of people of different nationalities I’ve met over here. I doubt that’s possible anywhere else.
Both of you moved to Dubai after a long stint in Mumbai. What would be your advice to someone from Maximum City who is looking to shift here?
Tarana: Please negotiate your salary as per the standard of living here! Don’t translate dirhams into rupees and get excited. Also mentally prepare yourself for the first year being a write-off as far as savings go. After that if you’re smart you can have a fantastic easier life. There’s so much to do here. In Bombay you barely get time to breathe between the commute and the traffic plus there are no open spaces. The UAE teaches you what a good work life balance can be.
Jaggu: You will probably not be here for the time you planned on being, could be longer, could be shorter, come with an open mind. You will spend more than you estimated. Figure out a way, very quickly, to save some money every month, otherwise before you know it, you won’t know where it went. Don’t go back on holiday and behave like an NRI, nobody likes that! Travel, go on holiday, visit new places. Dubai allows you to conveniently travel to places you wouldn’t think of doing from India. When the weather is good, definitely go to the beach.
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