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June 20, 2018

Whose World Is It Anyway?

Text by Rohini Iyer

From a career in journalism to being at the helm of the country’s leading global reputation management company, Rohini Iyer has charted her own path in what was a male-dominated industry.

Nothing to Lose
I believe my greatest strength is my fearlessness. That’s probably the secret of my success too. When I was 17, and starting off (I got hired as an intern for a magazine for my spunk), it was this fearlessness that kept me going.

When you have nothing to lose, you follow your dreams with guns blazing. When I started Raindrop Media (today, it’s the Raindrop Group of Companies with six verticals) there was no method to the madness.

I decided to launch Raindrop Media because I strongly believed that ‘character’ is what you have and a ‘reputation’ is what you earn. I realised that actors who had immense personal character and integrity didn’t always have the best reputation; their reputations needed to be worked on.

Play for Power
Initially it was difficult because I was just a young girl trying to make my voice heard. I remember arguing with top studios and top heroes, even at that age — and it wasn’t easy.

Power play is a huge issue. Certain men pull rank to bring you down. I’ve seen women replaced in films, and women in important positions being humiliated by inefficient but senior male officials. It happened to me as well, and, while not many women question it, I did; I paid the price for it, but survived and continue to thrive. Having said that, I also know some great men who wanted to see me grow when I was just starting off.

Strangely, it was the women who turned on me — I recall a Mean Girls scenario, something right out of high school. I remember once being told by a gang of entitled ladies that I would be finished and destroyed (I should mention though that I’ve worked with some of them through the course of my career).

I had two options back then — either to pack up my bags or do what I always do — have coffee, put on some gangsta rap and deal with it.

Keep Your Enemies Close….
We soon went on to become the biggest reputation management company in the industry, but with great power came multiple power lists and even more responsibility. And, I also got the greatest gift of all — greater enemies.

I made enemies with men in high positions in the industry (they shall remain unnamed) and the more powerful I got, the more threatened those men started to feel. These were men who were friends and whom I had worked with at the beginning of my career. They say, it’s a man’s world but I don’t believe it is. I believe, the world belongs to those who bring something to the table. In my case, I even brought the table, so I was undermined, not paid my worth or due, thrown out of many films, mansplained and even discredited for my work.

A top star (who I had worked with for over 12 years, and was a dear friend) went to the extent of putting out a story saying how I became successful by planting articles about him. Funny that he accused me of exactly what he was doing. He didn’t think twice about trying to tarnish my professional reputation, which stemmed from the fact that I had stopped working with him (for reasons I will not get into). He had reached the peak of his career thanks to my brand building abilities. Maybe his male ego would not admit that a girl walked out on him. A year later he very sheepishly asked me to be his business partner, an offer I turned down. He then called every studio in the country and asked them not to work with me.

However, I still have the fondest regards for him, and I’ve never played the victim card. I’ve always fought my own battles.

Take Control of Your Domain
Nothing inspires me more than people telling me, “You can’t do it.” I thrive on crisis. I believe one of the best ways of working is surrounding yourself with people who encourage your accomplishments. Along the way, I eventually found many strong successful women (producers, studio heads, actors, film-makers, among others) who I’m lucky to call my support system. We are constantly pushing each other to be the best versions of ourselves. We always have each other’s backs.

Why does everyone make a big deal about a ‘woman in a man’s world’? We are not empowering women by calling it a man’s world. In fact, I always joke that women who compete with men lack ambition.

And, it’s funny that they call us the weaker sex. The joke’s on them, and I say bring it on.

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