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Thursday, February 29, 2024

~ Editor Ratna Rao Shekar answers a few questions about her journey with WOW! Hyderabad in the last several years


Intro: The Editor answers some questions related to the magazine over the past 21 years from our readers

Do you remember the first issue of WOW!?

How can I not remember, though it does seem, to use a cliché, like it was all just yesterday. After some intense planning and visits to press, we set up an editorial team and design team for Deepti in the shortest possible time. Her enthusiasm was such, we were all just drawn to the idea of a great magazine for a great city. Our very first issue had Shriya Sharan on the cover; I remember we just took her to Lifestyle stores in Begumpet, and shot her framed against those glitzy lights. And before we knew it, the first issue was launched with a party ( in true Deepti style).

WOW! turns 21 years and is officially an adult; what advice would you give the young WOW!!

Keep going baby! Things will change, pandemics happen, there will be low revenues, but remember you are here to reflect a city and its growth, so keep the issue coming out month after month.

In the 21 years, what have been your proudest moments with WOW!?

It’s a matter of pride that we’ve featured several upcoming models and actors who are now big. But that is not the only thing; I feel happy we are able to change  with the times. We are still a strong print magazine at a time when everyone else, even the big publishing houses, are calling it a day with print. During Covid, with all the constraints we brought out a digital version, and now we are poised to go digital, so our readers across the globe can access the magazine. Our social media content too has got a new lease of life. All this makes me happy as a founder-editor.

In the age of reels and likes, what is the relevance of a magazine like WOW!?

As I’ve said, we have also entered the online game. But we will continue with a strong presence in the print space, where people will have the tactile experience of holding a copy of WOW! and reading our articles.

Many say print is dying, do you believe that to be true? 

A magazine the way we know it, may no longer be relevant at a time when everyone is getting their news on their phones. Yet I believe it will be read, only that the format will be different. But apart from instant news, there will be, and should be, more analysis of the world around us. Or else people will lose their way in this constant bombarding of news -as -it- happens. For that, long form essays by serious writers are essential.

What are the lessons learnt as an editor in these 21 years?

One thing then and now, I realize, is that we have to remain relevant to the city and its people. While we have a large loyal readership who have been with us from day one, I think we need to bring in younger readers who want a guide to steer them through the new things in the city; whether it is nightlife or restaurants or even things to do and see.

Which part of Hyderabad remains the most untouched?

Every aspect of Hyderabad has changed, I can’t say something remains untouched. Maybe Abids, along with the GPO leading to Sultan Bazaar seems to remain what it was like when I used to go there during the 70’s. I would say Old City too, Laad Bazaar, Pathergatti and the areas surrounding Charminar still have that old world charm. We should make them into heritage zones, and not allow vehicular traffic. Maybe just use cycle rickshaws on these roads which will add to the novelty.

Which place/park/monument was there 20 years ago, and it now breaks your heart to see it go as part of new Hyderabad?

Of course, hands down it is the glorious rocks of Hyderabad. They are older than the dinosaurs, why would we so carelessly and ceaselessly blow them up in the name of development? We could build beautiful amphi-theaters as Colorado has done with their red rocks.

Any advise to young Hyderabadis?

Yes, these days the young are getting disconnected with their roots, their heritage, their families even. But these are things that form the core of who we are. Let us retain a pride in the city, and let the young who have the energy form the community that takes pride in its heritage and its values. I’m not sure many young even know there was not one Nizam, but eight ( till Independence), and the Qutb Shahi kings predate the Nizams. 


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