How I overcame pessimism and failures and finally succeeded in following my heart

Film Critic Murtaza Ali Khan's story gets featured in Dr. Amit Nagpal's Heroes Amongst Us
Dr. Amit Nagpal presenting a copy of "Heroes Amongst Us"
The thing I dislike most in life is pessimism. We meet so many people in life who try to put fear in our hearts and it's very easy to stop believing in ourselves once that fear gets the better of us. Fortunately, the world is also full of people who motivate you and nurture you and fill you with hope to pursue your dreams. Ten years ago in the November of 2009, I embarked upon a professional journey as I left my home for the first time to join an on job training programme. Interestingly, this was approximately a year after I wrote my first movie review at IMDb.Com. For this blog post, I am not going to delve into my childhood and the details of how I struggled to establish myself as a film critic. 

You can read all that in Dr. Amit Nagpal's latest book "Heroes Amongst Us". The book can be ordered online at:

So, when I reported for the training programme I was quite determined to do well despite knowing deep down that it's wasn't something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In the year leading to my final exam in the summer of 2009, I was also hoping to crack the AJKMCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia entrance exam for the flagship course in Mass Communication. I had started writing letters to the editor (mostly to Hindustan Times) on a regular basis and I used to get published more often than not. I was also writing poetry and clicking photographs in order to build a profile that can help me during the interview round. But unfortunately I failed to crack the written test despite putting everything into it. I was naturally disappointed but definitely not broken. I had decided to work in the corporate sector for a year before making another attempt. But at the time I wasn't aware that the next couple of years would be so tough that I will have to completely realign my priorities. My first job didn't start too well for me and I was soon asked to report to a remote place near the Nepal Border. I eventually quit and reported to Ahmedabad for my second job. After 3 months of rigorous training I was posted to Chennai where I would spent the toughest days of my life. It was in Chennai I ended up preparing for MBA. 
Posing with my B.Tech degree after the Jamia Millia Islamia convocation ceremony
My Mass Communication plans slowly but surely went out of the window and cracking the CAT became my life's topmost priority. Finally, in the summer of 2011, I managed to secure an admission in Delhi Technological University's MBA programme. Interestingly, without any preparation at all, I also gave the entrance exam at AJKMCRC that year and even got the interview call. But by then I had already paid the fees for MBA and my folks thought MBA was a better career option than MA in Mass Communication, especially following a B.Tech and so I had to give in. During the two years at Delhi Technological University, I learnt so much about the way the world operates and in the process I was able to greatly expand my horizons. In fact, I now feel that everyone must do an MBA at one point in time or the other as one learns so much while making those presentations and studying those case studies and everything one does as part of the curriculum as well as the extra curricular stuff that goes on the campus. After the MBA was done I once again landed up with a corporate job. This time it was more managerial and analytical in nature. For the next two years, I did some great research work in the field of shipping and freight forwarding, postal services, FMCG/CPG, and marketing at large. But somewhere I was missing something that I loved deeply. I was so busy in work and travel that I hardly had time to watch and write about movies. It's something I wanted to change and a friend suggested that I should start preparing for government jobs and so I eventually started preparing for a bunch of exams. 

Posing with my MBA degree after the Delhi Technological University Convocation ceremony
Finally, I was able to secure a government job and that's how a new journey started. After the mandatory training I opted for the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, hoping to get a vacancy in Film Division. But soon all my hopes got dashed when I was assigned something very different. While I don't want to get into the specifics here, all I can tell you is that the nature of the job required me to be available 365/24/7. I was working on weekdays as well as on the weekends. I was also working during the holidays and I wondered why I quit my corporate job in the first place. I started developing all kinds of health issues and so I applied for transfer. After a lot of efforts I was finally transferred to a different department. When my boss learnt about my qualifications she assigned me 3-4 different departments to look after.  Now, as hesitant as I was in the beginning, this really proved to be my making in so many ways. I worked so hard and did a vast variety of things during the time I stayed there and by the time I was done I was a completely different individual. During my tenure, I also oversaw the shifting of the Employment News office from R.K. Puram to Soochna Bhawan, lock, stock, and barrel. So, I must say that the notion that there is no work in government jobs is utter rubbish. Often due to employee shortage the work pressure in government jobs is much higher than in a typical private job. Also, the public servant is always under a tremendous pressure to maintain a certain conduct while dealing with the public. I learnt all this and more during my stint. I also learnt that despite your best efforts and intentions it's impossible to make everyone happy. 

A brief glance at my media work
But during this time I was not just working in the day I was also putting late nights in order to prepare for the mass communication entrance examination. So, finally, several years after my first attempt, I finally managed to secure an admission into the Mass Communication course at AJKMCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia (and I decided to quit my govt. job to the great shock of all those around me). It became possible because of the kind of writings I was doing on world cinema all these years. Also, my exposure to world cinema came really handy during the interview. Within a few weeks, I realized that it was going to be a very rigor intensive course. But somehow I had to continue with my writing work simultaneously or else I would be stuck. So I kept on contributing to a bunch of publications during the time in addition to my blog. As part of the course, I learnt so much about how the world of media operates. Also, even though I already knew so much about cinema I ended up learning so much more. I also learnt so many new aspects of journalism and the art of creative writing at large. I realized had I got the admission during the earlier attempts I too would have settled for a campus placement and then I wouldn't have managed to explore my true creative potential. Also, I wouldn't be running an award-winning blog like 'A Potpourri of Vestiges'. Sometimes failures are important to truly explore your capabilities and channelize your energies in order to maximize your growth. The key is to stay true to your heart.

Posing with my MA (Mass Communication) degree after the Jamia Millia Islamia convocation ceremony
Posing with my MA (Mass Communication) degree after the Jamia Millia Islamia convocation ceremony
All these new learnings kept on adding tremendously to my understanding of the world firstly as a student of science and technology and then as a student of management and now as a student of mass communication. So as I complete 10 years of professional journey I am really grateful to all that I have learnt both in classrooms as well as on the field. I would like to tell you all that if you feel that you need to go for higher education then you must not stop yourself from going for it. It's a real icing on the cake that I have finally also received my Mass Communication degree. I must tell you that I have also qualified NET (Mass Communication and Journalism). Today, thanks to the God's grace as well as the guidance of all my mentors, I regularly contribute to the leading newspapers in the country, participate in television debates and podcasts, conduct lectures, workshops and seminars on screenwriting and film appreciation. Additionally, I am also the Films Editor of an online magazine named Cafe Dissensus. I also head the Delhi Chapter of the Bloggers Alliance.  

Now that I am almost 32 and have a B.Tech in Electronics & Communication, an MBA in Marketing and IT Management, and an MA in Mass Communication, I feel I need to keep on learning more from watching movies, reading books, traveling, and other real life experiences. So, see you all :-)

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