If you are a consistent viewer of TV reality shows, chances are, you already know Garima Gupta. If you follow the cookery shows on various TV channels, you might have, by now, tried one or more recipes of the Chef Garima Gupta. No? Okay, then if you are in or around Pune or Mumbai and keep participating in the world’s biggest all women motor sport, there are some chances, you might have met Garima Gupta on road, driving her car or on stage, performing an act for cancer awareness or some other cause! In short, there are many things that keep this highly spirited woman on toes and she keeps on donning one hat after another.
Sometimes she is the ‘Mallika E Kitchen’ Chef and the next moment she is the adventurous sports person kind of a woman who zooms past you on a bike or a car. If not cooking or driving for sports, she could be spotted on sets of famous TV shows, as an audience or as a participant. She doesn’t stop here. There are many more things that she does and all of those can’t be compacted in the introductory paragraph alone! So, let’s have a long chat with Garima Gupta. Why a long chat? Because a short one wouldn’t be enough to cover all that this all rounder proud Indian woman does!
Q. Hi Garima, let’s start from the beginning. Please tell us something about your childhood.
Ans. I was brought up, pampered and spoilt with love in a beautiful and carefree place, Goa. That place influenced me with its traits and I am thankful to my destiny for that. I learnt to be open minded, never to judge people based on what is seen and to live life to the fullest due to the atmosphere surrounding me. Being the only child, my parents did pamper me, but also put their foot down on many issues for which I am grateful in retrospect (though at that time, my feelings differed).
Q. What about your school and college days?
Ans. School and college days were fun, as I was part of a big ‘gang’ of friends. Probably, because I was the only child, I needed more to be around my flock when away from home. I am still in touch with all my friends, right from kindergarten, as I believe in maintaining relationships. We used to go to the beaches, sing songs, dance, and participate in inter-college competitions together. To my utmost ecstasy, I had won Miss Panorama and Miss Plateaunica- two talent based inter-college competitions. I was an-all-rounder. I represented the state of Goa in Badminton too. A very active student, if I say so myself, I contested and won elections at that level, and always stood first on stage for debates, elocutions and dances.
Goa, being a film paradise, witnessed many directors who flocked there for shooting sequences. So, it was natural for my friends and me to participate in these as ‘background artists’, just to wave hands or to sit behind the actors. To tell the truth, we all enjoyed such cheap thrills!
While I was doing my MBA from Goa University in marketing, I represented my University in an Inter-University Youth Festival in Amravati, Maharashtra.
Q. What did you do after college? Did you work somewhere?
Ans. After finishing college, I went to Mumbai to experience a solitary working life. I started my career with Funskool Toy Company. I lived as a paying guest with a few friends. It’s when I had to spend money for everything, from my dinner to my soap, from my tea to my toothpaste that I realized the worth of every single rupee I earned. I grew homesick soon and also realized the value of comfort, care and importance when you have parents around. So, I returned back to Goa after working for 6 months and took up a job with Birla AT&T which is now known as Idea Cellular. Since I didn’t need to spend much money at home, I managed to save enough and gifted a Maruti Wagon–R car to my parents. That was indeed a crowning moment in my life.
Q. Did you continue working after marriage?
Ans. After marriage, I wanted to spend time with my family, ergo I did not take up a job. However, I did take up my passion of cooking. When my husband’s job got us transferred to Allahabad, my son started going to school and I was able to take up a freelance job for a limited number of hours as a Personality Development Trainer at Frankfinn. I also worked as a trainer of spoken English at a few other institutes and coaching centres. When we got transferred to Pune, even then I took up assignments of Personality Training workshops for colleges and corporate firms. That passion took a back seat when I found my calling in cooking again.
Q. How did you get interested in cooking? Were you always passionate about this art?
Ans. I was always very fond of cooking, and also of learning new recipes from my mother, neighbours, friends’ mothers, magazines etc. I started experimenting in my school days and as I got full encouragement at home, I felt motivated to try more and more new dishes.
As I am married to an Indian Oil Corporation Officer, and since he has a transferable job, we were, at one point, posted at Amritsar, Punjab. Since I couldn’t get a marketing job there, I thought of pursuing this interest by conducting cooking classes. That passion developed further when we got transferred to Lucknow in UP and I continued conducting my cooking classes while taking up catering orders and providing daily meals Tiffin to a few, at the same time.
Even now, I conduct cooking classes regularly, at Pune too. Apart from this, I offer 3 types of salads in my society’s WhatsApp group, taking orders from members, and delivering to them in the evening.
Q. Have you done some professional course related to cooking or does it come naturally to you?
Ans. No, I did not do any cooking course, professional or otherwise. I learnt through observation and imitation as well as magazines during my formative years. There wasn’t any easy access to a computer or the internet back then. Later on, Internet did become a great source of international recipes.
Q. You have done many cookery shows on TV, Internet and other media. Not only this, you have also won many awards in cooking. Please tell us about this aspect of your art and its recognition.
Ans. Since whatever I cooked was appreciated by many, I got some confidence to participate in cooking competitions. I won a few at Lucknow and then at Allahabad. When we got posted to Pune, while surfing the net, I got to know about a cookery contest on TV. I applied and they asked me to send a video clipping telling them about myself. I did that and I included a lot of humour in my video. They liked it and I was selected.
It turned out to be LG MALLIKA E KITCHEN show of Zee TV. I won that and then there was no looking back. My culinary journey in glamour world thus began !!!
Since I was the winner, I was contacted by Tata Sky Active cooking to make videos for them with my recipes, which I did. Through Facebook, I contacted some TV celebrities and they kindly agreed to cook along with me for Tata Sky Active Cooking and we did a few videos. I did 17 video for Tata Sky.
I kept on applying for more cooking competitions and also kept winning them. I was invited to cook on TV as a winner on ‘Turban Tadka’ show on Foodfood channel, and twice for ‘Ab har koi chef’ on Zee Khana Khazana.
Apart from that I won ‘Fortune Foods recipe contest’ and they came over to do a recipe shoot with me at my home. They put that video on their website as well as on youtube. I won ‘Dalda Dawwat E Ishq’ recipe contest and was awarded by the actors of that film – Parineeti Chopra and Aditya Roy Kapoor. Most of my cooking shows are showcased on my personal youtube channel garimagoa1. I also started a facebook page by name GG’s Platter.
I won many more, famebox, world of moms, Borges oil competition and so on. Speaking of this, I want to share that after all these achievements, a production house approached me and we discussed and finally launched my cookery youtube channel named GG’s Platter as by then people had started associating me with my initial GG. This is my second channel and is related to my cooking only, and not the TV shows that I have done.
Q. This means, cookery shows are not the only ones, you have done other TV shows too?
Ans. Well, as I told you, I love to maintain relationships; I kept and still keep in touch with all the interns and people who contacted me for the shows of cooking. To let the readers know, I would like to mention that in this line, the interns work on projects and not for permanent jobs. So when they would get new projects, and since I had kind of impressed them with my wit and humour, quick responses and a bit of talent, I started getting offers for other reality TV shows.
Q. So, what all TV shows did you do?
Ans. As a family, we have done a game show called ‘Family No.1’ for Doordarshan. We did 6 episodes till semi-finals. I also did BBC Mastermind Quiz show for Disney channel, again 6 episodes till semi-finals, Sab Khelo Sab Jeeto on Sab TV, Family Fortune on Big Magic channel.
This also reminds me to mention, while in Goa, I did a debate on a TV show called ‘Public Demand’. I have also participated in 2 episodes of BOOGIE WOOGIE and have appeared in two MAKEOVER shows on Times Now channel.
So from cooking to quizzing to participating in 2 minute games to dancing to makeovers, I have taken part in more than 50 episodes of different TV shows. Most of these shows are showcased on my youtube channel, garimagoa1
Q. Whoa! that’s quite a huge list! And you are not just this, you also have a passion for driving and keep participating in motor rallies. This is so adventurous and totally opposite to cooking and reality TV shows. How did you develop interest in this? And what all you did?
Ans. Well I am one person who can’t sit idle and neither can I stay stuck in one thing for too long, I need to keep doing something and that needs to be different and somewhere needs to make me and people around me happy. So when I came to know about an all women car rally for cancer awareness, I jumped at the opportunity, formed a group and went ahead. Apart from enjoying the experience of driving, I was happy about creating awareness as to how certain cancers have treatments and how early detection can prevent it. So, I participated in that rally every year and during the third year’s participation, we were awarded Guinness book world record certificate for participation in world’s biggest all women motor sport.
I also participated in many bike rallies too. Ladies like to join my gang as I love to go in large numbers and be very noticeable by the theme we represent, by certain sense of dressing and by performances too.
Q. You are quite popular in your circle as you keep giving free audience passes for TV shows. I am excited to know as to whether you are also associated with some TV media company?
Ans. I am not associated with any media company, neither it’s my job. It’s more of a hobby. And it all happened due to my dream.
One of the dreams I was carrying was to just be able to see Amitabh Bacchan in person. And I am the one who believes, if opportunity does not come to you, , create the opportunity.
So when I watched KBC, I noted the names of people on credits, tried searching them on social media, contacted them and enquired how I could get an audience pass. Many didn’t bother to reply but two lovely ladies did and I got that person’s contact details who could help me. I contacted her and requested for a pass and she promptly gave me 5 passes after mentioning a few details and rules.
Q. So, you got to meet the iconic Mr Amitabh Bacchan?
Ans. Attending KBC as audience was one amazing experience. I have seen people standing for hours in front of Amitabh Bacchan’s house for just a glimpse and here he sat in front of us for 2 hours and interacting a few times with the audience so very modestly. The magnetic persona and talented person as Amitabh Bacchan is, he left us craving for more.
Luck was on my side. I messaged to thank the lady and she said rarely did anyone thank after taking the passes, so she was pleasantly surprised. We stayed connected and next I went again with a gang of 10 ladies and enjoyed the experience once again.
Through her only I got audience passes for myself and my friends for more shows like Sab se shana kaun, Comedy k superstars , jhalak dikhal jaa, Kapil Sharma Show, Nach Baliye, Aaj ki raat hai zindagi, Yaroon ki baarat and so on and got to interact a bit with many celebrities. I then realized, there were many of my friends who wanted to attend such shows as audience, so learnt the entire process and became a link where I send many people as audience and she is glad that her work load gets less. Till date, I have sent 400+ people as audience. As I said earlier, I am not associated with any media company, nor is it my job. It’s more of a hobby.
Q. As one by one, all your hobbies and other aspects of your personality are getting disclosed, I am excited to know more. Apart from all these, is there anything else that you do or have done in the past?
Ans. I am basically a very creative person by heart, so for any function being held, I am always a part of it. Even for the women’s drive, I applied and twice I performed on stage there, once a play and another time, an innovative act.
In my colony too, we keep having loads of activities during Ganesh festivities, So I make it a point to collect ladies and perform something on stage. I believe that as we grow older, the ladies don’t get many opportunities to showcase their talent and perform on stage. So, once I organized a Bollywood fashion show in a form of a story with 32 people dressed up as famous Bollywood characters. I have also organized and conducted nukkad natak to save water, performed a few plays, and have anchored a few shows. I have also sent many for auditions of various show and many got through that too. I keep pushing my friends to not stop living their life. Family is a priority but never neglect self.
Q. Did you always have this intention of doing what you are doing now or did this come later in your life? What’s that has inspired you to do all these things?
Ans. Things which I am doing at present could not have been planned as those options never existed when I was a child. But even as I child, I knew, I would like to do something different and create opportunities. So even when I was in college, I just walked one day to AIR ( all India Radio ) office at Goa and told them, I want to do something in this medium. They offered me a program YUVAWANI for which I had freedom to record whatever I wanted. So I used to choose topics, interview people, write and perform audio plays, asked friends to recite poems and so on. I used to get a stipend for that every week and for about a year, my shows were relayed on AIR.
I just grabbed whatever opportunities I saw and tried creating when I didn’t see. Only thing I knew was that I am a team person with a little leadership skill. And that helped.
Q. Was there a time when you were not working and just staying back at home, taking care of family and kids? How did you feel like when you were just a home maker and not doing anything else other than taking care of your family?
Ans. After marriage, by choice, I wanted to stay at home and so did not take up a job. I enjoyed those moments too. After my child was born , I again chose to be with him as I was responsible for bringing him to this world and didn’t want him to be handled by maids. And when one chooses something on own and not by compulsion, it’s always enjoyable.
I started my cooking classes which kept me busy once in a while and did not keep me away from my child. I always worked on freelance basis keeping my child and family as priority. Even when I started to travel to Mumbai for my shoots, It was at a time when my child had grown up and needed just a supervision of maid around for a few hours. I used to be back before the family missed me.
I was never rigid and didn’t stick to only one field in life. I used my different talents and hobbies to keep myself busy as well as to earn money from it whenever I could. That flexibility probably helped me to be away from frustration and be happy in all circumstances.
Q. Were there any challenges before you?
Ans. Well, I usually do not like to share my struggles or pain. So there were a few issues like making travel plans, adjustments with hubby’s travel plans and kids studies, clubbing in as much as possible were challenges but I didn’t take stress and just was as natural as I am.
As for cookery shows now, I am facing a constant challenge of presenting new recipes that are easy and quick to make yet tasty.
Q. Were their certain specific challenges due to your being a woman? How did you overcome these challenges?
Ans. Well, no, I would say being a women, I gained more opportunities – like to be able to participate in special events held only for women such as all women bike and car rallies and so on. Cooking also came naturally to me as I did that work daily. To emote, to connect, to smile and to talk continuously, I feel, these traits of women, in fact, helped me to be where I am.
As a woman, specially an Indian one, we are expected and I think to a great extent, we ourselves want to keep our family commitment as priority over other things, which was true to me too. But Instead of feeling bad about it, I chose to accept it and move around that fact. Any woman who chooses to pursue a career or to stay at home, must understand that it’s her choice, no one can force her to do anything. And therefore, if she chooses to stay back at home, she should not make others in the family feel guilty about her decision nor should she feel bad about her choice. So, accept the fact and be happy and work around the option you have chosen.
Q. Did you get support from your family members?
Ans. Parents infused confidence in me since I was a child. My dad taught me to ride geared scooter, changing a punctured tyre of a car, so much so, he even taught me how to blow a whistle. My mom taught me the finesse of womanhood and how to remain positive and smiling and energetic in all situations. My husband Zubeen is the one who tasted all my experimental food and could guide me on which taste works and which doesn’t. He was the source of all monetary inputs while the profit earned was entirely mine, hahaha! So I had 100% profit that way. He always would arrange for my travels promptly when I had to travel to Mumbai, and at times, even changed his own travel plans so that he would be in the city when I wasn’t there for the child.
Even when my mom was fighting cancer, he was a huge emotional support as well as my back-up whenever I needed to be with my mom. My mom would have definitely been extremely happy and proud to see my achievements had she been around. Indeed I believe all what I have got is through her blessings from above.
My son Gautam has been a source of joy and due to his existence, I learnt to be responsible. I learned so much more about the thought process of my parents because of him. Though I have been a strict mom, keeping him away from phone and Internet and social media he did not complain much. He has turned out to be a very intelligent and well read boy who has appeared for his 10th board this year. He represents his school in inter school GK as well as Basketball competitions. He wants to pursue law and as a parent we shall ensure he gets the best of the education he deserves.
Q. When have you felt most satisfied in your life?
Ans. Every event when it is completed, I am happy and satisfied. Every moment, when I am able to do what I promise to myself, is very satisfying. Every time when I am a link to fulfil dreams of my friends like that of being seen on TV or attend a shoot and when they really are grateful for that, it’s very satisfying.
Q. Do you have any regrets?
Ans. I believe that whenever I must have taken a decision in past, It must have been a well thought of decision of that time. there must have had a reason for taking that decision. So if I regret it today I am insulting my own self. So I do not regret any part of my life. I am not saying all decisions were right, but they have made me what I am today. I am happy being me. But at times I have a regret that my mother is not around to see the things which I do now.
Q. What advice do you want to give to other women? Also because you do so much without being in a regular job, do you have any specific tips for the women who stay at home but want to make it big.
Ans. First thing, feel comfortable in all situations. Regrets, being forced to do something, feeling sad will make you feel miserable and that will attract more negativity. So if you are at home, don’t think you are wasting your time. No, you are not. Your child, your family needs you more. Jobs are not the basic goal of life. If you do not have an option to change that, better enjoy it.
Follow your passion and hobbies. You can prove your worth by even being at home. If you write well, start blogging, if u photograph well, start participating in online competitions, if you sing or dance, or paint, or know yoga, or are good in studies or apply mehendi well, or cook well, start teaching. I mean, use any talent to keep yourself busy even if not for earning money. Immense opportunities are out there in today’s world of technology. Use it. If there is no opportunity, create it.
Don’t be rigid, be flexible
Q. What is that one habit of yours that you think has helped you a lot in becoming a success?
Ans. Being positive always is, I feel, a thing, which has helped me look beyond failures.
Q. What is that one sentence, word, or quote that describes you the best?
Ans. Life will not give you a perfect situation- you have to make every situation perfect.
Q. How can people contact you?
Ans. My email ID is firstname.lastname@example.org
Garima is an inspiration to such women who want to follow their passion and hobbies to earn something, whether it be fame, money or just satisfaction. She is treading ahead in life with her sole motto- create opportunities if you don’t find any.
If SHE Can, YOU Can!