(December 26, 2022) When Nadia Hakani is on the stage, she leaves the world behind. The chaos backstage does not matter to her nor do the technical glitches which may end up snapping the sound, abruptly. Come what may, she remains upbeat. There is no other way to do it. The ace host and anchor have faced stage blackout many times but her experiences — loads of it — ensure she engages with the crowds anyway. Nadia has a knack like no other and she proved it for the umpteenth time at the recently concluded FIFA World Cup.
“Every moment at FIFA was exhilarating. I was the only anchor hosting the blockbuster event for 30 days non-stop,” smiles Nadia Hakani, the ace host and anchor, in an exclusive conversation with Global Indian, hours after her return from Qatar. She hosted the Al Khor fan zone which caters to fans north of Qatar. “Whatever the event, I can keep the crowds engaged. It is important to read the crowd’s mood before starting any energising activity,” says Nadia, who has hosted 1800 plus shows so far, which include over 100 international shows in nine countries.
She has been an anchor, emcee, corporate team-building coach, presenter, and conference crowd motivator for the last 12 years. So how did FIFA happen? “Well, there was no way I would have refused the offer (to host a FIFA fan zone) which came my way. The entire staff did a great job and made the mega event a huge success,” says the host, who has a natural ability to keep the crowd engaged for durations of up to two hours, without a moment of break.
Back from FIFA, she headed straight to host a Corporate Team building Drums Interactive show. Just like she does for all events, Nadia did thorough homework before stepping on the stage at FIFA as well. “I go into a lot of details about the crowd that is attending, their age groups, and the general mood. I mold my events accordingly,” says the host, who did all it takes to keep the crowd, comprising three lakh people, engaged. “Sharing the stage with stars like Jimmy Felix, Abhinanda Sarkar, Tajinder Singh, and Awez Darbar at FIFA was an amazing experience.”
Born to shine
The Hyderabad-born host comes from a big joint family of 13 members. When Nadia was eight, her elder brother, Saleem made a makeshift radio for her from an old compass box and a curling brush. “Both would start hosting fake talk shows for fun. It eventually led to a successful career,” says the host, who did her schooling at Diamond Jubilee High School and completed her MBA from Shadan college, Hyderabad.
She grew up in a conservative family and it took a lot of convincing to allow her to anchor shows. “Now, things are different and my entire family comes to my events and enjoys them,” informs the host, who even used to sneak out of her house to do shows earlier.” While she has made Mumbai her home, the Hakani family resides in Hyderabad.
In her growing-up years, public speaking was a farfetched idea until a sangeet event of an event manager friend changed everything. “I was given the entire stage to get the crowd together and I received a lot of accolades for the job,” says Nadia of how that particular instance triggered a passion for hosting and anchoring events.
Over the years, the ace host has worked with people of all age groups, ethnicity, and gender and makes sure that all her crowd engagement activities are inclusive. “A show is not a single artist’s work it is a teamwork of many components. Once on stage, an anchor is representing the entire team,” says the host, who has perfected the art of being a crowd and game energiser. “I have successfully handled massive crowds. Anchoring runs in my blood now,” smiles Nadia.
She is so much into her job that once when she dozed off on a long flight, she started dreaming about the show she was going to anchor. “I started emceeing the show while asleep and it is only when fellow passengers started giggling, I woke up,” she recalls.
Owning the stage
Over the last 10 years, she has single-handedly conducted on-site and off-site team-building events at Google, TCS, Deloitte, Accenture, Cognizant, Amazon, and Oracle among others. “I love the travelling that comes with each event and the people I meet. It’s a highly rewarding career, which teaches something new every time,” says the Hyderabadi host, who attended Clown workshops by actor-director Rupesh Tillu.
She has hosted movie launches, product introductions, and team-building events. From the dance reality show ‘Dancing Star’ to Afro T 20 cricket league to hosting IPL “Ek India Happy Wala live” — the host has done it all, including red carpet events. Along her journey, she met several Bollywood A-listers including Deepika Padukone, Akshay Kumar, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh among others. “I have done 1800 shows so far and looking forward to hitting 2,000 soon,” says the super host, who played a role as a reporter in the film Collar Bomb which was released on Hotstar, an experience she describes as amazing.
She has also participated in life planning courses by Mind valley and All Ulfat (National School of Drama fame). “I am awaiting a World tour with actors which is also in pipeline. My theatre guru has offered the main role in a series to me which will soon be revealed,” the host says. Presently, she is learning Boomwhackers and Drums jamming by Dr. Sham Rock.
Anchoring, she says, lets her wear many hats. “I have performed music jams, been a games jockey, worked on theatre concept, and even danced with the participants and I loved it all,” says Nadia, who has completed certification in World Leadership Training by World Human Development centre and Land Mark Forum Level 1. The host was also honoured with the title of World Peace Ambassador in 2021.
Doing some of the biggest events around the globe, she says there are two things that anchor dreads the most — a stage blackout (when the mic is working but everything else abruptly stops) and a ghost (when even the mic stops). “For one boomwhackers event in Dubai, a ghost happened. I then used my trademark vocals to keep up the crowd’s energy,” she recalls. Among the most memorable events of her career is hosting 50 consecutive shows in Dubai, which went on for close to two months. But she is desperate to host more. “My Dream is to work with Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan in an event and be a guest on the Kapil Sharma show,” the host says.
Nadia is looking to do more sports events including Olympics, F1 Racing, and Red carpet events such as IIFA, Filmfare, and Femina. “I am currently in talks with Femina India for a Boomwackers Show,” informs Nadia who is looking forward to continuing with her acting forte. “Stepping up on stage is like entering an unknown territory each time,” Nadia says when asked about the challenges she faced during her journey.
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