It does not happen every day when a situation arises that consumes your life entirely and turns it around completely, only to reintroduce you to a side of yours which was hidden deep down somewhere within you.
Ritu Chopra found herself in such a situation during the pandemic. After working in Media industry for almost two decades, she never imagined herself to be consulting for NGO sector and that it will consume her completely.
The lockdown has given Ritu’s life a new meaning!
Ritu’s journey in the field of Media
Ritu started working right after her graduation. She started off as a backstage designer and moved up all the way to becoming the programming head of three channels learning everything on the job. She has worked with all the big of television industry as well dabbled in various genres. Her last formal role was as AVP programming with Sri Adhikari Brothers for three of their channels.
In fact, in the early days of her career, she also acted in a few popular shows like Tara on Zee TV and Aahat on Sony apart from working in theatre.
“I have been working in media for a long time and the industry has been very generous. Many people mentored me, taught me, and helped me in achieving what I am today so helping, mentoring, and guiding is something which I have always been doing on the job. It has always been a very fulfilling experience”
For the last couple of years, Ritu decided to work on the projects that gave her creative and intellectual satisfaction, as well as touched on subjects that need society’s interjection. She has produced a few short films and is currently involved in the creation of digital content as well. Her films Sleeveless and The Please Book have been appreciated across the award shows circuit and by socially-aware people alike.
Ritu’s creativity is not limited to the field of Media
Ritu Chopra is also an Art Curator and has curated many art shows including one with 20 female artists for Women’s Day called Women on Top which was a huge success. In fact, she was representing renowned artists in TIAF 2020, Tokyo International Art Fair in June 2020, but the lockdown put that on hold.
Life in Lockdown
She was busy with her next short film when the lockdown happened. Without thinking twice or wasting time, she joined hands with community services groups and helped in providing food regularly to the daily wagers and grocery kits to households where it could not be reached because of the lockdown situation.
Ritu has been working with social sector in the past too and always wanted to make it more fulfilling by giving it more time but, due to other commitments, it was something that she had put on hold.
She was already associated with the Salaam Bombay Foundation Arts and Media Academy (SBF). And when lockdown happened, they gave her an opportunity to realise her wish of wanting to do something more significant. They approached her to be a part of their Project Link, an ongoing project, specifically designed for lockdown.
“I am lucky to be associated with such an amazing organisation which helps underprivileged kids unconditionally. The entire SBF family works towards a common goal of empowering adolescents to make the right choices about their health, education, and livelihood, thereby ensuring that they can thrive with a bright future. The team works with such passion that one gets absorbed in the vibes”.
Project Link is an app which has been specifically developed for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) by Salaam Bombay Foundation with the help of Zomato. BMC wanted to enable distribution of kitchen essentials and cooked food to poor, migrant, homeless, and vulnerable families during the lockdown. The mobile app was created to ensure that the distribution is being done efficiently and no one would be denied the basics in food.
The response was amazing both from the BMC as well as the NGOs. Till June 2020, the project managed to serve more than two-lakhs meals and still growing strong.
“I guess they liked my passion and zeal, so they approached me asking if I was interested in working or Project Link and I jumped at the opportunity. Honestly, I did not face many problems as the team led by Mr. Gaurav Arora & Ms. Rajashree Kadam was very driven towards the purpose of ensuring that essentials and food was provided wherever required. The entire team worked round the clock for timely working of the app to ensure its optimum usage during the lockdown.”
Ritu believes, “Profession is something which you do to live, and passion is something which you live to do”.
“During the pandemic I came across many people and organisations who worked passionately and selflessly. IHRO (International Human Rights Organisation), Seniors Paradise Foundation, Rotaract and TSS (Team Spreading Smiles) have been doing great work. They re-introduced me to doing something positive for the society. Working with all of these wonderful behind-the-scenes warriors has been very soul-satisfying.”
The satisfaction of doing something for the community during the tough times has given a new purpose to Ritu. She has started working on other projects which will be beneficial in the post lockdown period.
What Next for Ritu?
Ritu is happy that she has been able to be do something positive for society when they needed it the most and looks forward to dabbling in this space for a times to come.