As part of the 90Caps series on Women of Substance, we feature popular CNN-IBN news anchor Palki Sharma Upadhyay who has bid adieu to the world of news to follow her heart.
Linden Ashley once said, “You bring a little bit of yourself to every character you play. We’re multifaceted creatures.”
This holds true for Palki Sharma Upadhyay. A popular and familiar face on CNN-IBN, after a decade of being part of the exacting hard-headed world of tight deadlines and breaking news, Palki has hung her gloves to do something that her heart set a deadline for! And she is not ‘sari’ about it!
The accomplished TV anchor, mother of two, wears many hats and she slips into every role as easily as she cracked the challenges of the nine ‘o’clock news.
Here she gets candid with 90Caps about work, family, success and the fruition of a cherished dream -Reyva…
Enjoying the bliss and challenges of motherhood full-time while making time for her French classes and the gym, Palki calls herself “an accidental journalist, who strayed into the newsroom by chance!”
Born and brought up in a traditional household in Rajasthan, the pressure to choose a more stable profession hung heavy. Palki trained to be a textile designer and studied English Literature simultaneously. But that innate adventurous streak led her to explore many avenues.
“Jaipur is a small place, so doing a language course meant you’d better your opportunities of getting a job.”
“As a teen, I wanted to do so many things. Back then, the term for such people was ‘confused and not focused’. I’d like to believe that I was multifaceted. So, coming from a typical middle class family I was expected to have a stable job. Dad wanted me to be a doctor mom wanted me to work in a bank.”
Like every youngster with stars in their eyes and the fire to scorch headlines, she too headed to the El Dorado of her dreams – Delhi.
“I used to write for the local paper, got an offer for a small TV stint with Doordarshan. I took it up and liked it. Good pocket-money,” she says.
Doordarshan opened a window to the vast world of news and views, setting the tone for a long and successful innings at one of the popular news channels of the country.
Having spent 11 years with CNN-IBN, she reminisces on how her ambitious and resolute nature helped in striking the perfect work-life balance. “Motherhood can be very challenging,” remarks Palki, adding, “I owe it to my husband and in-laws for understanding and helping me juggle the two.”
So what prompted her to quit journalism and take up designing?
“Kids were not the reason why I quit my job. I am looking for better working hours. More me time,” she says.
“I am a committed professional. But it’s not easy to live up to expectations. When I started, we did a different kind of journalism. And no comments on what is being done today,” she says with a smile, adding, “my training was such that when you’re writing a package, you take a Congress byte and you take a BJP byte to stay objective and fair. An anchor is supposed to hold the debate together and let people speak. As an anchor you are not expected to take a ‘for or against’ position or impose your opinion. You hear and let people speak.”
Given the clamour and drama that defines prime time news hour in the country today, Palki felt that she did not “fit into the current realm of news”.
“I am not a confrontational person. I don’t like putting people down. I teach my children the same thing. The thing that I miss most is one show that gives the day’s news simply, without the high decibels. I just felt I didn’t belong here anymore,” she says.
But quitting also meant giving up a job with a steady income, “an organisation, they gave me every opportunity, promoted me well, all the space that I could have asked for.” But something was missing.
“I was feeling miserable; was itching to do something else for the past two-three years. I talked to a friend who advised me to ‘Let go and follow your gut feeling’.” Which Palki did.
“After 16 years, this is the first Monday, I am not going to work and it is quite a daunting thought. I lay great store by having financial independence. I used to be worried about who is going to pay my bills etc,” she says.
But after the plunge it all seems to have fallen in place. The traditional Indian wear, Sari, provided her the perfect alternative to hone her skills as a textile designer.
Palki recalls, how after the birth of her first child, she started wearing saris to work regularly. What started off as making excuses to justify the traditional dressing, became a need to change the mindset of how people perceived this fashionable and versatile garment. Not only did she inspire colleagues at her work place, but she also decided to bring to the platter, the best of what this vibrant country has to offer. And, thus was born Reyva!
With many young women ditching western wear for comfortable and chic options, the six yard wonder seems to be making its presence felt by becoming the most sought after dressing option. Donning a sari is no more about being traditional and rustic; but symbolising empowerment and relishing something whose roots have always been a part of our culture.
“I am so glad people are reviving the tradition of wearing saris. The sari is now a symbol of choice and empowerment, it’s a reverse cycle. My mother’s generation practically lived in a sari. I come from Rajasthan, where something like this is even more common. I was inspired by the rich hues and the exciting possibilities the sari offered and best, I wanted to create the ethnic weaves that I wear, because online they are not available and besides, the costs are crunching,” says Palki.
Indeed, brand Reyva, reimagines the conventional six-yard drape to redefine power dressing. A chic, contemporary label inspired by traditional weaves and patterns, the brand promises to feed the appetite of many a sari afficionado.
Check out https://www.facebook.com/REYVA-1012866772085124/?fref=ts for more information on Reyva.