The Sunday Leader

Apsara Reddy Upfront & Personal

Print media journalist and TV host extraordinaire, Apsara Reddy has taken the Indian 4th estate by storm. Her chat show is controversial as much as it is highly rated and her popularity grows – her success appears to be rather more remarkable when one considers that she is one of India’s better-known transgender subjects. Apsara Reddy spoke exclusively to Faraz Shauketaly in Chennai.

Tell us of your background in the print media? How did you start? What was your pinnacle?
Soon after school I had many options because I’d topped my school with great grades. Naturally, my folks egged me towards a business degree but I wanted to be a journalist. I applied to Monash University, Australia and got accepted immediately. Then later I did my MA in London in Broadcast Journalism and Developmental Economics. I used to write as a freelancer for India’s leading daily The Hindu and contributed interviews with big names like Michael Schumacher and Nicolas Cage who visited Australia and London. So with that experience, when I moved back to India I was offered positions to helm newspaper operations. I consider every story equally significant in my career. I’ve interviewed Prime Ministers, Hollywood biggies and India’s movers and shakers. My brand of journalism is irreverent and tongue in cheek.

How did it feel when you were first appointed as an Editor?
I was offered Features Editor of The New Indian Express when I was 24 years, and at that time it was a huge high. Two years later I was poached by the Deccan Chronicle and made Senior Editor of the paper. With the excitement came a deep sense of responsibility to always put my readers first. No one else mattered.
How difficult was your decision to embark on the road of gender change?
Not difficult at all. I always knew I was meant to be a girl. I told my folks quite naturally, and they were incredibly supportive and helpful. For that matter, no one to date has ridiculed me or discriminated against me. It has a lot to do with how you carry yourself and how you project yourself. I educated myself, applied for the right jobs, engaged with people warmly, and if ever people had genuine doubts I sat them down and explained it to them.

Did you ever feel it may negatively impact your career in journalism?
Not at all. It in fact helped spark a revolution by writing on sexuality and gender in the national pages of the newspaper.
What of the

social angle in terms of your change?
People are very happy to embrace me and all credit goes to my job and my folks. I have a lot of friends who’ve never once made me feel anything less than a woman. Of course there are moments of disillusionment when men hit on me even though I only look at them as a brother or a friend. But then again if I weren’t attractive they wouldn’t make a move! So I take it as a compliment. I find all strata of society very open as long as you also play a decent part. The problem is transwomen have projected a certain not so decent image of themselves.

What did your Mum have to say? How did your male friends react after the change? Did you lose many of them or did your friendships strengthen?
My mom’s my hero. She said no matter what you are, you are my child. She only ensured I followed safe ways to transition. She sat through every doctor’s appointment, read up a lot and to date she’s the one who encourages me to be who and what I really want to be and achieve. My male friends were very cool. I never lost a single friend because of my choice though I have let a few friends (both male and female) go, because they’ve tried to hit on me. Yes women too!

Your entry into TV: what experience did you have? When you made the move from print to TV how deep was the end you jumped into?
TV is a whole new ballgame; lots of glamour, longer hours and far more recognition. I host a celebrity talk show on which ‘A’ league stars from the film industry discuss life, love, controversy and relationships. It is a scandalous show with immense warmth and sensitivity. TV makes you a recognisable face. Print helps you build another celebrity.

Have you ever been to Sri Lanka? What excites you about Sri Lanka and when will you visit?
I’ve been to Sri Lanka many times. I just love the warmth of the people and their ability to welcome tourists. I’ve found both the Tamils and Sinhalese people incredibly zealous and totally loveable. I love Gallery Cafe in Colombo and I’ve spent many memorable evenings there. My hair dresser in Colombo, Kess owned by Wasantha is where you’ll find me dolling up. The unique thing about Lanka is its Cosmo high society. They are very elegant and polished and are genuinely warm unlike page 3 sets across India. There’s real camaraderie.

2 Comments for “Apsara Reddy Upfront & Personal”

  1. Ranaveera

    Incredible. She is very beautiful. More power to you Apsara ma’am

  2. sheetal

    What an absolutely marvelous and romantic tale. Power to India for being progressive and for permitting human beings to live irrespective of sexual preference or station in life.

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