Jay Kumar: The Compere Extraordinaire
“The theme of Jay Ho talk show is Motivation and Inspiration with a tadka of entertainment.” Says Jay Kumar, the Anchor Producer of Jay Ho show
For a large chunk of the Indian Diaspora in the US, Jay Kumar is a household name. Over the years, he has carved a niche for himself as an anchor and ensured a fan-following. His fans across the US and elsewhere never miss an episode of Jay-Ho, the talk show he hosts. Not many anchors reach celebrity status. Very few are endowed with the charisma that holds the audience in a spell; Jay Kumar is one.
Confident, well established in his profession, and no-nonsense personality, he has all the quintessential attributes that go with a successful anchor. He is always well-equipped with all the details about the background of his guest and a knack to bring out the persona he/she is. His innately amenable nature and disarming smile makes him darling of his guests and the audience. Full of warmth and exuberance, his personal touch to the show makes his guests feel at home, relaxed and comfortable. This is the reason the audience finds all his interviews inimitable and enjoyable.
Jay has been in showbiz for quite some time though it is not what he is trained for. His passion for cinema got him where he is today. In fact, he has been associated with New England film School and Tuff University.
Committed to cater to the taste of his audience, Jay Kumar explores novel ideas and treads uncharted territories to inspire and entertain them even if it means to break from the tradition. All these efforts save the programme from becoming a run-of-the-mill sort of talk show while establishing him as the compère with a difference. It is, indeed, different. Unlike many other talk shows out there that thrive on controversies and theatrics, Jay-Ho aims to discover the person behind its celebrity guest with an understanding of his or her struggle, highs and lows and how he/she coped with failures and rejections. Each episode has some takeaways – life lessons that can motivate and inspire. JHere are excerpts from his interview. As expected, Jay opened his heart out while speaking about the challenges he faced in putting together his Jay-Ho show and how it got where it is now.
Q: Let’s start with a very basic question, what prompted you to launch Jay-Ho? There is no dearth of talk shows lined up on electronic and social media coming up with all the information that people need to know about their celebrities. Why do you think people hook on to your show?
Jay Kumar: Thanks for giving me an opportunity to share with you the idea behind the Jay-Ho show. You have rightly pointed out that today one would find a plethora of information about the artists, sports star, film stars and singers. But all this is part of a promotional exercise. These interviews you read or watch have either been put up by PR agencies managing their new releases or building their personal brand.
You don’t get to see the real person behind the veneer. He is a person just like you and me, someone who cries, laughs, gets angry or plays with his kids, and does his job like anyone of us. Of course, the nature of his or her work is such that he/she gets lots of love and admiration along with the remuneration. The theme of our talk show is Motivation and Inspiration with a tadka of entertainment.
In each episode of Jay-Ho, the Jay Kumar Show, I try to dig deeper into the persona in a way to deconstruct the world-class performer from areas that include films, sports, business, and art, to extract the best tactics, tools and routines which I and my audience can implement in our lives.
Jay-Ho! Show is not designed as a Fast food recipe or a tiktok/Instagram reels. There are already so many shows around it. Jay-Ho is slow and we try to dig deeper in understanding the process of Success and failures. We all have fears and we try to understand and learn from our guests how do they manage their fears, their anxieties and stay grounded. My goal is always to capture the positives vibes of my guest and pass it our audience.
I want to make sure that even a kid in a remote locality of India or one living in New York gets some value out of Jay-Ho! With this motto on the back of my mind, I try to maintain the lucidity of the language, keeping it simple yet entertaining.
Q. How do you choose your guests?
We choose our guests very carefully. It is important for our theme to have a guest who can inspire. My goal is to let my audience know the best practices they followed in life. For example, one of my guests, who made it big in early years of his career, later lost his/her momentum. The artist is now making a comeback in a big way. The story is quite motivational. He/she even cites the reasons for the failure. Failure is not a step backward; it is, in fact, an excellent stepping stone to success. To quote Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts”. Many of my guests are living example of this quote. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses are important.
Q: Now that your show is a rage in the US and getting attention from other countries like the UK, Canada, Middle East, and India could you recount your journey. How the Jay-Ho show was conceptualised, planned and finally implemented?
Jay Kumar: Well, the idea was simple. Get to know the person behind the personality we love and admire. Talk about his highs and lows. No gimmicks, no theatrics, just a heart-to-heart conversation. That is what my show is all about. Jay-Ho is a honest effort to understand the real people in the show-biz.
Q. What prompted you to start the Jay-Ho show?
Jay Kumar: When this idea came to me, I had no clue as to how to pull it off. All I knew was that I wanted a show that would be about mainly inspiring people/celebrities who have a body of work behind and have been around for some time. Here in the US, there is a renewed interest in Indian cinema. A lot of young people from the Indian subcontinent want to know about Indian films, actors, singers and what have you but their search begins and ends with Google.
They get to know about their favourite stars in bits and pieces, that too, second-hand. I thought I could connect them to the person directly. Moreover, I could also be able to help popularise Indian cinema here in the US. A lot of white people are hooked to Indian music and cinema. They too are my audience. When something I do helps someone overcome his/her challenges in finding their greatness, that’s my new touchdown! That’s what drives me.
Q.: Could you share with us the challenges you faced in putting this show together?
Jay Kumar: Definitely! It was indeed quite challenging to put it together. The biggest challenge was to get the stars to use their own setup and technology to be on the show. It would have been easy had I been in India, but coordinating and coaching them on how to use technology in an effective manner is sometimes challenging. Every guest has his/her favourite device to be used and an angle that makes them look better. Controlling their camera remotely is always bit of a task.
We work with a small but dedicated and talented team under Anurag and Rumi which is responsible for the technical and editing aspects of the show.
Secondly, getting sponsors in the US for a show which is technically Indian wasn’t easy either. But by the grace of the God, I could be able to overcome the hurdle.
I must thank my friends like Sonu Sood and others who motivated and encouraged me to venture into this endeavour.
Q. Most of your guests are found relaxed on the show and open their hearts out. How do you manage that?
Jay Kumar. There is no secret to it. I talk to them with all the love and affection I have for them. I don’t put my words in their mouth like the typical talk shows. I give them a chance to speak out candidly by giving them time, by not interrupting, and not bombarding questions. The magic works. It makes them comfortable to open up as they would to a friend. For me, each episode is a learning experience. Their experiences are life lessons that I cherish and want my audience to take note of.
Q.: Which is your favourite episode or personality featured on your show? And do you only have Indian film Stars on you show?
Jay Kumar: Well that is a bit difficult to answer. So many people have been featured on the show, yet each episode is unique and has a charm of its own. Sonu Sood, Alisha Chinai, Altaf Raja, Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Ali Haider, Ekavali Khanna, Neeraj Kabi, Pitobash, Abhijeet Sawant among others have so far been featured on the show and they are all good human beings apart from being great performers. I loved talking to all of them especially to Sonu Sood for the simple reason that he is my childhood friend and talking to him was like going down the memory lane.
The answer to your second part of the question is certainly not. As I mentioned I look for inspiring role models and they could be anywhere. Though most of my guests are from Indian Cinema but I have also had silver medalist Boxer, and another singer from Tunisia and Finland. We are trying to have many other international celebrities from all walks of life.
Q.: Could you tell us something about your background?
Jay Kumar: Well, as I have already said I am a trained engineer/technology marketer but have learned the ropes on the go. I earned an MBA degree with a focus on International Business from The Netherlands. All along I was working on innovative technologies but always had an abiding interest in media/films. This passion of mine culminated in the Jay-Ho show.
Q.: After the Jay-Ho, what next?
Jay Kumar: Honestly I haven’t thought about it. I take life as it comes. Right now I am totally focused on the Jay-Ho. I don’t make long term plans. But yes, I want to make the show even bigger and reach out to more people across the globe. I am working on taking the show to Europe and South America. In addition to this, we are working on Jay-Ho Musical/Comedy event in early 2022 in nine cities of the US and two cities in Canada.