Profile - Preeta Sukhtankar: The Talent Spotter

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | November 12, 2010
Sukhtankar, the recently appointed entertainment head at KWAN Entertainment & Marketing, shares her career path in a chat with afaqs!

In a way, entertainment has always been at the centre of what the lady has done so far. With a career path that touched luxury, fashion and lifestyle at various times, Preeta Sukhtankar, 32, has had a rather interesting journey. Born in Pune and brought up in Dubai, she returned to finish her graduation in Economics from Xavier's, Mumbai.

Sukhtankar's brush with fashion was accidental. Knowing her fondness for writing, her aunt who worked in The Sunday Observer urged Sukhtankar to join the newspaper as a part-time writer while still at college. Anjali Mathur had taken over from Pritish Nandy as editor of the paper. "It was her idea to get a college kid to edit their college section, to make it young and trendy," recalls Sukhtankar. Within six months, Sukhtankar was made the editor of the newspaper's youth page, New Generation.

A chance to marry her love for fashion and writing arrived in the form of a job offer from Elle magazine, once she had graduated from college. Not only was Elle a new magazine, the fashion industry itself was at a nascent stage. "I mean, people pronounced the word Elle as 'Ellee' and all that!" she laughs. During an interview for a column with Natasha Malhotra of MTV, Sukhtankar and Malhotra got talking about other things.

Before she knew it, Sukhtankar was being asked to write for one of its shows, MTV's Most Fashionable. Then 24, Sukhtankar bade farewell to Elle. Writing for the show also had her driving the show concept, while working on all the aspects of it, including production and direction.

"In MTV, the atmosphere was always young, fun, full of irreverence and creativity, not so much about budgets and targets. Those were the times when office parties had vodka pani puris," recalls Sukhtankar. There were a lot of firsts, but as Sukhtankar felt she was spreading herself too thin by handling various shows, a talk with Malhotra, her boss, had her handling fashion and talent.

She led the MTV Talent Hunt team, and sifted through all the applications, auditions and tapes, and portfolios, for the various talent-hunt shows. "Crazy stuff," as she puts it. Sukhtankar moved out of MTV after four years because her boss was moving (Malhotra went to MTV Singapore). Also, MTV was becoming more about Hindi content, with most of its VJs speaking in Hindi, which is fair as that "sells". But the funkiness and exclusivity was lost.

She decided to move out of television altogether, which is when the Percept D-Mark offer came about. That stint, less than a year long, had Sukhtankar cast in the role of business head, fashion. "The grounding and experience that I had at MTV helped," she says. Percept allowed her to engage with the same audience, the youth, particularly women, so the transition was smooth. Her job profile included spotting new talent, engaging and executing fashion properties and events. It was "rather hectic and short, but I got to learn a lot".

Her love for publishing pulled her back, with a stint at Apricot Group of magazines in 2005 as director and publisher. She got to work on her 'dream' brand, Seventeen, and L'Officiel.
Anirban Das Blah, KWAN's managing director, and Sukhtankar were in the same batch in college. "My husband, Prashant, is into sports management. He and Anirban have regularly been in touch. So Anirban and I have also been in contact on and off," she says.
KWAN propagates that celebrity spotting happens in four major ways - pitching to the sons and daughters of existing celebs, beauty pageant contestants, finding raw talent and lastly, spotting actors and actresses who are big down South. "My job at KWAN is to nurture this kind of talent like a brand," says Sukhtankar. She will feel right at home.

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