Karuna John
26 Jul 2016 . 5 min read

Meet The SHEROES: Malini Agarwal, Founder, MISSMALINI.com

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From a hobby blog to a chronicle of all things filmy and non-filmy from the world of Hindi cinema, MissMalini has come a long way. And the woman behind it, Malini Agarwal, has evolved too, putting the ‘pop’ in pop culture, and being as big a celebrity as the ones she writes about. She has come a long way, and says she wants to create similar opportunities to help others shine.

Excerpts from an e-interview with Karuna John:

Did you ever think that blogging would one day bring you fame?

In retrospect, absolutely. I see now how all my various career experiences were practically shaping me to do this for a living. But when I started, it was simply a hobby blog and a place to document the fantastic adventures I was having in Bombay (now Mumbai). I really just wanted people to see young millennial India through my eyes, and not just through documentaries on poverty and various “Slumdog Millionaire" stories. I always tell young people when they ask me how to become successful bloggers and make money: Don't start off looking for fame and fortune. Find your passion and all of that will follow.

What was your childhood ambition, and how did you share it with family and friends?

I think I grew up wanting to be a criminal lawyer--partly because my sister was a lawyer and partly because I watched way too many television shows with badass criminal prosecutors! At some point, I wanted to be an astronaut because I was obsessed with outer space and I'm definitely guilty of a great deal of "beta woh dance karke dikhao" performances, but I blame my mother for that! (I secretly enjoyed it, I won't lie). I did end up becoming a professional dancer for six years, so I guess it came in handy after all; the astronaut and lawyer not so much!

Did your formal education steer you towards what you hoped to be?

I studied English Literature because I have always loved words. I like books because, more than movies they play in the theatre of the mind where you can picture everything just as you want it. I didn't think I would become a blogger because the concept didn't exist when I was studying, but I knew writing was always something I was passionate about and would pursue--if not professionally, at least personally. I think I studied literature to have adventures through the stories I read, and it taught me how to tell my own.

How and when did you choose to launch MissMalini? How did family and friends react? What were the hurdles you had to cross?

I launched MissMalini very unceremoniously from my sofa, probably in pajamas. This was back in 2008 on the suggestion of a very forward-thinking friend! Since it was a hobby at first, it wasn't something people were shocked by. They thought it was a cool addition to the things I was doing--I was a radio DJ, programming director at my radio station and a gossip columnist. So, at first, it was just an extension of my column in a digital format. I don't recall too many hurdles. I loved blogging so much I would do it every night after work and really enjoy it!

And now, what do you see changing for women professionals in India?

This is an interesting question, because so much has changed and at the same time so little. It depends what tier of society you're talking about. I find that increasingly today, my peers and I are given more genuine respect and not seen as "women in the workplace" in a way that we are considered less capable. In fact, I find most men admit that women are master multi-taskers! But I think women hoping to build careers in smaller towns still face a lot of societal pressure to get married, or aren't considered as capable as men. I hope that this will change over time, and I am optimistic that it will if we make a conscious effort.

What inspires you, and as an educated urban woman, what is your long term goal?

I am inspired by people who have carved their own path and had the courage to believe in themselves, even if they were flying blind with no benchmarks to follow. To make something out of nothing is incredibly satisfying.

I'm proud to have been in this industry since its inception in India, and I plan to keep pushing the boundaries. What inspires me is helping others achieve their dreams, and I hope to create opportunities for hundreds or thousands of girls like me. We're taking MissMalini Entertainment #tothemoon, and everyone's invited to join!

Karuna John
Woman. Pan Indian. Alive. Aware. Arisen. Learns one new thing every day. Fixes bigots. Journalist. Word Curator. Storyteller. http://www.sheroes.in

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