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Priya Jethani
Priya Jethani

Which Bollywood star most surprised Zee TV’s Priya Jethani in Dubai?

UAE born and raised, Jethani is making a name for herself in celebrity television

by David Light

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Published: Sat 19 Dec 2020, 4:19 PM

Last updated: Sat 19 Dec 2020, 4:26 PM

HOW ANXIOUS ARE you to meet your Bollywood heroes, or merely pick up a sniff of the latest goss? Judging from the reaction our stories generate, not to mention the letters of appreciation we are asked to forward when announcing an Indian film industry star’s visit to the Khaleej Times office, the intensity of adoration for actors is breathtaking. In fact the interest is sufficient to sustain entire magazines, websites and television programmes surrounding the latest showbiz goings-on. These include TV shows such as the ever-popular Zee Connect, the Middle East’s own branch of Bollywood discussion forum, shown in between the channel’s movies and serials. For the past five years Dubai’s Priya Jethani has been following the UAE’s affinity for Indian films in season six through ten of the popular magazine format. Kicking off the latest run in autumn this year, we caught up with the 33-year-old presenter to find out how she arrived in this coveted position, which Khan made the greatest impression and whom she has in her interview crosshairs.

How did you make your way into broadcasting? Is there any advice you can pass on?

Being a TV presenter was never something I had dreamed of or desired to be. I was interested in media and glamour and I had a portfolio of professional photos made when I graduated school, but studies at the University of Wollongong in Dubai and a corporate job at The Nielsen Company took over and I forgot about it for many years until February 2016 when I took up some modelling and a beauty pageant. This was quite a confidence boost, so I gave up my job and started actively looking for media assignments. I was fortunate to be cast in various commercials before I came across an ad on Facebook in April saying ZEE TV ME was holding auditions for their new season of Zee Connect. I walked in there, gave my audition and I heard back from them around September. A few more auditions passed and there I was chosen to be the presenter for season six.

Your dreams don’t have an expiry date, so even if you think you may be late to get into a field like media, give it that shot. A year from now you will hear yourself say I should’ve begun then. So the minute you realise just take that leap, and paths will open up on their own.

What is the Dubai broadcasting scene like and how has your time on the show been?

The media scene is definitely a land of opportunities and more importantly a very safe one just like the country. I was always constantly looking out for any auditions and castings taking place for commercial shoots, movies, drama series, and to my surprise I actually found plenty. When I heard the news I had the job I was ecstatic, it was one of the happiest moment of my life. I was going to be on a channel I had grown up watching. Very much from the start of the season I was thrown into interviewing big Bollywood celebrities like Dia Mirza, Madhuri Dixit, and Shankar Mahadevan. I pretty much learned on the job, and I was always critical of my work, finding flaws and trying to better my skills.

What has been the most memorable interview?

SRK (Shah Rukh Khan, as if you didn’t know!) by far was the most memorable guest on my show. His charm, his wit, his skill of making you feel at ease is just remarkable. I was only 10 episodes into the show and he came down for the promotion of his film Raees. Whilst waiting for him I think I changed the segment intro at least 10 times. Regardless the words still came out differently. What impressed me about him the most was his down-to-earth attitude. You don’t expect a star of that stature to be so humble.

Why do you think Bollywood has such an influence in this region?

For decades a large part of the population has watched Bollywood and now with so many movies and web series being shot here it almost feels like UAE is the industry’s second home.

What’s the best bit of feedback you have ever received?

Salman Khan’s manager once said to me, “he thoroughly enjoyed your interview”.

Who would you most like to interview and why?

I would some day love to meet Amitabh Bachchan. I’m not sure how nervous I would be. He is a Bollywood super legend and it would be the biggest honour of my lifetime to sit across from him and have a conversation.

Did you know?

Priya has just launched her own perfume, Joie De Nuit, available on Amazon.

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