Popular face of STAR News, Siddharth Sharma was recently in the UK to promote the Simply STAR event where he hosted the STAR News Zone, along with BizAsia.co.uk.
We caught up with Siddharth to find out more about his work as presenter of the channel’s flagship news bulletins and editor of STAR News’ ‘Wah! Cricket’ show.
You’ve been with STAR News since 2002, how has the journey been?
The past 7 years with STAR News have been both challenging and exciting. Besides hosting a variety of shows I have been closely involved with the programming of the channel.
I was part of the team which churned out the award winning path breaking 9pm show ‘STAR Report’. This was a programme that revolutionised news presentation in the Indian news space. I also had the opportunity to be the first host for the show.
I have been closely associated with all special programming over the years and currently am also responsible for all sports coverage on the channel.
How did you get into broadcast journalism?
It was purely by accident. I was pursuing my management degree when I had sometime on my hand I came across an ad by a cable network which needed someone who could translate Hindi scripts to English.
I gave it a shot; they liked my work and offered me a job to anchor their English news bulletin. I worked with the channel for close to three years. I then got an offer with ZEE News for an internship. My work there was liked and one thing led to another and I landed a fulltime job there. I worked for almost 4 years at ZEE News before moving to STAR News.
You’re the face of ‘Desh Videsh’, ‘8pm Show’ and ‘Wah Cricket’ on STAR News, tell us a bit about these?
‘Desh Videsh’ captures the essence of national as well as international news happenings in a unique two-host, one and half hour format. An early evening bulletin, its stylised delivery and racy format provides a synopsis for the viewer of every major domestic and international news happening.
On the other hand, ‘Wah! Cricket’ is an in-depth cricket programme which seeks to analyse and question, team India’s performances. It sets benchmarks for performance based on “Mission 2011”, the dream of bringing back the World Cup to India. It turns the spotlight on the areas of improvement as well as questions the strategies adopted.
The 8pm show provides a 30-minute round up of the day’s major stories.
You’re the editor of STAR News’ popular ‘Wah! Cricket’ show – do you enjoy being behind the camera for this?
‘Wah! Cricket’ unlike other cricket shows on air is not merely a news bulletin, it۪s an editorial on cricket. It does not pander to anyone and is unsparing while reviewing the team’s performance. We ask questions that people want to ask.
How would you compare working in front of the camera and behind the scenes?
Both offer their own challenges, as an anchor you have to be super alert and are never sure when the next major news story will come from. You cannot afford any let up, in fact there are times that if there is a failure in any of the systems you have to fend for yourself. It’s fun. You may have had a rough day but your demeanour should not show that. I have always believed an actor in a way has to be part actor.
Being in the newsroom you are part of the system which shapes the channel’s line on every news story. You are part of the team that sets the editorial tone for the day. You need to be in sync with what people want to know and the best way to communicate that story to them. As a news producer, one has to inform, educate and entertain all at the same time.
What is the most memorable breaking news story you have covered on STAR News?
The big stories these days are sadly all gut wrenching, they are mostly terror attacks which leave you with disturbed.
How do you switch from light humorous stories to something as hard hitting as terrorism, deaths, etc?
It’s difficult but then when something of that magnitude hits you it completely knocks you out and you don’t have the luxury of reacting like the person watching the show at home. We have to gather ourselves and get on with the job. It’s a dichotomy where you are attached with a news piece when you are supposed to be detached.
There have been occasions where you have broadcast 11-12 hours continuously at times of breaking news, how do you keep a straight face?
There have been many that have gone on for long. It’s usually the big stories that have you on their tail at hours at a stretch. I have had many during the Agra Summit I had pulled in 10-11 hours stints if anchoring, the attack on parliament, attack on the Akshardham temple, the Mumbai blasts and more recently the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
These are the times that your awareness levels and responsibility go notches higher. The channel likes a person on a big story to pull in long shifts as he is most clued in, any other person who takes the baton from him will definitely take time to get the flow. Also as an individual you are more driven and like to put in that bit extra.
You were here for Simply STAR earlier this month, how was it meeting your followers and fans?
It was a humbling experience, when you are working you don۪t realise that the work you do is followed widely. I had a wonderful time interacting with the viewers of STAR News at the Simply STAR event and I take back with me the affection and kind words of the people of London.
What does Siddharth Sharma like to do in his sparetime?
Whenever I am accorded the luxury of free time, I like to work out or go for a swim. I read, I am a huge film buff catch up on a lot of films and comedy shows.
Come back to the UK for a vacation with my family.