“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results… but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it.”
- George R. R. Martin
We believe you’re familiar with our fascination for those who lead double lives professionally, that we explored through the lives of 36 individuals across two volumes (that you can check out here and here). These are the guys burning the candle at both ends, and doing a fine job at it. Then, there are those who choose to go off the deep end and vouch completely and irrevocably for their dreams (and no, they don’t get much sleep either). For these dreamers, we have another kind of respect, albeit an equally special one.
It takes immense courage – and a healthy dose of madness – to put an end to what is potentially a financially stable life, to pursue your real calling. So we scoured the space for individuals who have, at different points in their lives, taken a step back and re-evaluated what their dreams meant to them before deciding to throw their entire weight behind them. Here are 16 individuals who’ve truly followed their hearts, and won us over while at it.
[We take on this list for the second time, since there’s no dearth of passionate dreamers and wanderers. If you missed the first compilation we did, catch Vol. I here. Additionally, all names are presented in alphabetical order, and not in any order of preference.]
I. Aarushi Patel | Detail freak. Experimental. Artist.
Arpan Patel | Detail geek. Designer. Innovator.
Who: 26 and 29 respectively, Aarushi and Arpan are the architects behind the three-year-old company Kassa, that specializes in sophisticated urban styles of leather products, ranging from bags to shoes. This married duo are the founders and designers realizing their entrepreneurship dreams one bag at a time.
Aarushi, a MICA (Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad) graduate worked as an art director for two years for brands like Taj hotels, Safari chocolates and the likes. She tells us about her additional work, “Alongside, I worked as a freelance artist, graphic designer, painter and illustrator, which I still continue alongside Kassa. Job was more of a restricted and limited environment in terms of creativity and my passion for graphics.”
Post his Masters in product and furniture design, Arpan worked with famous galleries in London before quitting because of lack of freedom as an artist. Together, they started Kassa to explore their artistic abilities on their own terms.
“Dreams are succession of ideas!”
On their passion for artistic freedom:
Aarushi shares, “We both wanted to start something as we dream like artists, and think like entrepreneurs.”
”The biggest challenge was starting from scratch and building brand value based on good art with utility. Also, when you realize that your manufacturing unit is your responsibility and every month you have to provide for them irrespective of anything.”
One line that inspires them:
Aarushi shares, “Less is more.” And, Arpan contributes, “Design lies in detailing.”
II. Anirudh Voleti | Honest. Straight-forward. Patient.
Who: 30-year-old Anirudh works at a new, Delhi-based company, Big Bad Wolf, representing music and comedy related talents, and has kept his dream alive purely through his passionate love for music.
After his bachelor’s degree in Business, Anirudh went on to work with Citibank NRI Banking, and learnt a lot about patience, corporations, and running businesses, but his heart wasn’t in it. Parallel to his day job, he sang in a band, and did it just for the love of playing music. He tells us about his journey from there, “The tie and collar job just wasn’t for me, and I quit the band and the banking career, and moved to Hyderabad to work with D.E.Shaw & Co. - a back office of a Hedge Fund. Unfortunately, the city of Hyderabad had almost nothing to offer in terms of live music, and that sapped every single bit of positive energy left in me.” During his time in Hyderabad, he chased every single person he knew in the music industry, and Vijay from OML gave him a job in Mumbai. Inspired by Radhu Dixit and Pentagram, he had the determination to quit his corporate job and follow his passion for music. After setting up music festivals and managing artists, he moved to Dhruv Jagasia’s Big Bad Wolf in Delhi.
“ Dreams are definitely what you make of it.”
On his passion for music management:
”I enjoy working with talent, building things ground up. As hard as it may be both financially and practically time consuming, it’s the end result of seeing the artists on stage lose their minds to an audience that’s ready to lap up everything they have to offer. That’s the real satisfaction.”
”Not having enough money to be able to do the things you want to do. But, it all works out.”
One line that inspires him:
”Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” - Chris Grosser
III. Anjali Kirpalani | Adventurous. Witty. Hard-working.
Who: 28-year-old Anjali Kirpalani has authored two contemporary fiction novels (‘Never Say Never’ and ‘Written in the Stars’), as well as co-founded her own PR agency ‘Epic Communications’. This writer has just gotten started, and is now working on her third novel.
Originally from Bombay, Anjali lived in South Africa for eight years, and worked as an RJ with Lotus FM. After moving back to Bombay, she worked with NDTV Imagine Showbiz as a reporter, followed by various other media positions before she joined Economic Times Now. Eventually, she quit ET Now to pursue her dream. “As an author, I get to speak at literature fests, colleges, and book events, as well as inspire young people to follow their dreams. As a PR Consultant, I love the feeling when I successfully get my clients featured in the media or get them marketing alliances. And, I love when I come up with unique ideas to promote my books as well. I’m so grateful that I’m getting to pursue all my passions and use all my skills, be it writing, public speaking or marketing and public relations,” she shares. Standing by her decision, she explains, “When I quit ET NOW, I knew I would never get back to a corporate job. I wanted the flexibility to work on my own terms.”
“Dreams are meant to be fulfilled. If you can dream it, you can do it!”
On her passion for writing and entrepreneurship:
”Nothing compares to that feeling of writing a story. The creative satisfaction I get knowing that I started with a blank word document and ended up creating a world of my own is unbeatable. When I get emails from people saying they were depressed or lost in their lives and my books cheered them up, I know it was all worth it.”
Anjali talks about her experience founding her own agency, “As an entrepreneur, I love being able to choose the clients I want to work with. I pick brands that I truly believe in to represent. I love getting the stories of these brands out in the media; there are so many young Indians doing great work and as a PR Consultant, you get to really give these brands the exposure they deserve.”
”Regular income, for sure!” she exclaims. A new author’s royalties and the financial difficulties of running your own business turned out to be challenging, but some things are more important to Anjali, “It’s at these times, that it seems like people with the stable corporate jobs might be better off. But then I remember how I felt working just for a paycheck on things I wasn’t passionate about and I realize I don’t ever want to go back there!”
One line that inspires her:
‘The Creator has not given you a longing to do that which you have no ability to do.” - Orison Swett Marden.
IV. Astha Khetan | Positive. Energetic. Boundless.
Who: 30-year-old Astha Khetan is the director of ‘The House of Things’ - a qualitatively curated gallery that acts as a space for interaction between design talents and discerning lifestyle customers. Based in Udaipur, she is focused on using her professional learning to realise her dream of curating artistic treasures.
”I worked earlier in London at a digital media agency called AdLink. It was as a great introduction to the world of e-commerce and familiarised me with nuances of this industry,” shares Astha about her first job. Eventually, she moved on to her second corporate job, “My job at Unilever helped me learn about how world class brands function, global approach to work, and with it the responsibility of achieving results with maximum flexibility and minimal constraints.”
“Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us, and new beauty waiting to be born.”
On her passion for artistic treasures
”My love for art, hand craft and design was what made me start The House of Things, and it’s fabulous to see it grow with a great team, amazing energy and successful implementation of ideas,” Astha tells us.
”The first challenge was putting our team together. We needed people who were business-minded and who were passionate enough about what we were doing to work for peanuts until the money situation got more comfortable. Thankfully, we have a wonderful team - all passionate about what we do, and also very capable,” Astha admits. She goes on to add, “The second challenge is getting over the idea that there would be a tipping point after which we’d be super successful, and instead getting used to the idea that it would be a slow build over a long time, but that that would be fine.”
One line that inspires her:
Dream On Dream On Dream On
Dream until your dream comes true! (Dream on by Aersomith)
You can explore Astha’s curated treasures on The House of Things.
V. Bhishma Rajiv Sagar | Ambitious. Self-motivated. Passionate.
Who: 26-year-old Bhishma is the co-founder and director of music event company and agency Regenerate Music Opc Pvt. With unconventional events stirring imagination in India’s music scene, they curated international artists for true house and underground music lovers to enjoy at edgy venues like By The Pier.
Before Regenerate, Bhishma, along with his father, opened a Diamnd Jewellery factory called Imperiale. “Everything was great financially, but there was always this emptiness to do something that I genuinely loved and something that could bring a change into my life and others,” he shares about his day job before Regenerate. Eventually, he pursued his passion for music,”We started at the bottom like anyone else would. This music or our events was not something this city was ready for, and even we ourselves didn’t know if this is something that would work out. Neither of us were from ‘the scene’. We were in the midst of the EDM wave, and India has always favoured Bollywood or commercial music in its clubs. I, on a personal level, prefer unconventional venues for a party. So, when we started, the plan was to do as much as you can outside the clubs as possible.”
“Dreams are meant to be lived if you make them happen.”
”It’s the wait to be honest, to see your baby grow and shine to being something great one day,” Bhishma tells us.
One line that inspires him:
“We think too much and feel too little.” - Charlie Chaplin
VI. Devika Arora | Bold. Experimental. Cerebral.
Who: 26-year-old Devika Arora works out of the cosy fairy lit, old teak wood office of 420 - Char So Bees. As founder and creative head of this independent art and music festival series, she bring Calcutta a platform for young music, film, poetry, comedy, and dance performers.
”I used to work in the VFX Film Industry in Vancouver; some movie titles that were worked on include Goosebumps, Furious 7, Batman vs Superman and the upcoming disney flick ‘The Finest Hours’ - but for all the of the grandeur, it felt tedious & monotonous. There simply wasn’t enough connection or zing to keep me motivated,” Devika tells us. After quitting her day job, she is now the creator of an electric festival with a colourful ambiance where different forms of culture unite.
“Dreams are seeing your crazy ideas actually manifest in reality.”
”Multitasking around the clock 24/7, because no matter what you do, you can’t leave work at work. It’s kind of like your baby.”
One line that inspires her:
“Stop acting so small - You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” ― Rumi
VII. Divij Kaul | Patient. Persistent. Positive.
Who: 27-year-old Divij runs a Delhi-based entertainment solutions company, Limn Entertainment, which is a dream come true for this young entrepreneur.
Working with two different corporate companies prior to starting his own company, Divij gained the exposure and learning he needed at Oberoi Hotels and Helpage India. Talking about his time at Oberoi, he shares, “It was a great job role and experience for me overall, and I will never regret it as it taught me a lot. And, a lot of who I am is because of that exposure in the corporate world. I think it’s safe to say that I couldn’t have run a business without that experience. I had a blast working earlier, everything was new and exciting. I was eager to learn and prove to myself that I had what it took to succeed, which to my mind I did, but after that was where I felt something lacking.”
“Dreams are made into reality when you make a plan the morning after.”
On his passion for the media
”I left everything including multiple job offers post that to follow what I loved the most which was something within the entertainment/music domain. I don’t think I was even entirely sure then what exactly I was going to end up doing as a business, whether it would work or not, and how it would become a business model. The only thing I knew was that corporate life wasn’t my thing,” Divij tells us. Talking about his hectic weekends, uncertain timings and long weeks, he adds, “But, I absolutely love it.”
For Divij, his challenges were a combination of things. “The first one was converting my dream into a business model, one that generates revenue and can expand and grow. The second challenge I think was to convince my parents that this could actually work and that I could sustain myself doing what I love. I remember sitting with my father and explaining my business model to him over a power-point presentation. He’s a hardcore businessman, so it was quite challenging. But, it made me more sure of what I wanted to do, and how to do it.”
One person that inspires him
Divij sees his father as his biggest source of inspiration, and is motivated by a quote of his, “Anticipation is better than reaction, the better you anticipate the further you will go”.
VIII. Gayatree Kishore Joshi | Travel. Social work. Adventure.
Who: 29-year-old Gayatree takes on multiple social endeavours to help marginalized sectors of society. For the last two years, she has built various projects, and now aims to start her own trust.
After her Bachelor’s degree, Gayatree entered the corporate world of hospitality, “I worked with few hotels and was about to join Air India express. The job was extremely monotonous and extremely hectic. Somehow I was not satisfied with what I was doing. I always wanted to reach out to people and help them.” Serving people in hotels brought her bread and butter, but it was devoid of creativity. That was when she swapped in her career for social work, “I had been volunteering for a long time, and worked as a volunteer in Don Boscos with street children for several years. This is what encouraged me, and was my ultimate calling to help the marginalized sector of our society.”
“Dreams are wishes from your heart. They are your calling .Just really, really, really believe in them and challenge the Impossible .There’s nothing you cannot attain then.”
On her passion for social work
”My passion is filled with deep emotions by creating smaller changes in making bigger causes for building up a better future. My aim is to reach to the unreached people in our society from rural, tribal, urban, and the most remote regions across India.”
”Social work somehow has been misunderstood as charity work . It is extremely difficult to explain the world that we are changing lives of people, we are the ones who really believe in empowering, uplifting society and people of our country. We are always on our toes to make that one small difference wherever we are may it be playing a role of a social activist, counsellor, healer or trainer. Social work is a profession, we don’t donate all the time nor do we mint money on the name of creating an NGO. We are real people making real changes in making a better India,” shares Gayatree, trying to change the misconception of social work.
One line that inspires her:
”A Life lived for others is a life worthwhile” – Albert Einstein
IX. Heena Bhalla | Passionate. Gullible. Absolute Introvert.
Who: 25-year-old Heena is both a model and an entrepreneur, as she runs a gifting start-up called ‘That’s a Wrap’ for all occasions, complete with personalized packaging and customized designing.
After a Bachelors in Multi Media, she worked with an advertising agency, but the long hours and hectic work schedule pushed her to quit, and she moved to a start-up. She loved this youth-based organization, but eventually quit to pursue her passion. And, she started modelling three years ago. “I finally fought with the fear of getting out of my comfort zone and doing what I wanted to, what my family always pushed me for,” she explains. Heena’s modelling career was accompanied by her start-up, and she elaborates, “A year and a half ago, I started this venture with a friend. We provided personalized packaging and customized designing for all occasions and got a brilliant response, and my passion for doing something of my own only grew each day.”
“No matter how wonderful our dreams are, how noble our thoughts or how high our hopes, ultimately we need courage to turn them into reality”. So have courage , you have more power than you think!”
On her passion for modelling and entrepreneurship
”It was passion till it grew almost insane. And, that of a psycho, but in all positive view! Passion to pursue what I wanted to. It was that simple! I feel like being the best I can be, and doing my best each day. The feeling is almost ecstatic.”
”The money initially was zilch. The nature of my modelling career being uncertain, being fit AT ALL TIMES, which is still a challenge, you can’t slack even a bit because of the tough competition. Today I have built myself stronger to fight and overcome challenges that strike me each day, all thanks to my practice of Buddhism.”
One thing that inspires her:
The song ‘Dream on’ by Aerosmith.
X. Manav Chadda | Passionate. Blunt. Perfectionist.
Who: This 29-year-old restaurateur owns the quaint, neighbouring watering-hole Quench that is much-loved by all its patrons lining up on the street for a table.
Manav tells us about his journey, “I started off as an assistant director for films and television. My first project was for a television reality show at the age of 18, and later I even made corporate films for big firms. I loved my job then, and I love my job now. I always give my 100% to everything I do. But, it is definitely fun to be your own boss.”
“Dreams are what keep you going.”
On his passion for entrepreneurship
”Becoming an entrepreneur was a dream. So, I quit to become a restaurateur.”
”Working for others is easier then working for yourself. You have to work harder, and at no point you can take a break.”
On line that inspires him:
”Lights will guide you home...”
XI. Nishant Gadhok | Passionate. Transparent. Mad.
Who: This 26-year-old founder and director of Gently Altered is also a DJ and Producer under the moniker of G.A.D. Nishant Gadhok’s love for exploring newer styles of music inspired him to get into music production himself.
”By the time I completed my master’s degree, I’d already worked as an engineer at oil extraction units in the Thar Desert and Arabian Sea for Cairn Energy. Additionally, on strategy formulation and operations consultancy projects for Dun and Bradstreet India. I took up the role of ‘Director, Business Operations’ at an online startup named Flat.to post that,” and that’s when Nishant decided to quit his full time job and carve a new life path in underground electronic music culture.
His inspiration, initially, came from Mumbai’s live music scene where he came across eclectic sounds and a wide range of styles of electronica. As he explored this culture further, it impressed him, and he went on to be a self-taught DJ. Eventually, Nishant started Gently Altered, “In the last year and a half, we’ve curated some amazing gigs showcasing highly talented local and international acts at various popular venues. Also, we’ve taken up the responsibility of curating music for two young and fresh chain of bars, Boveda and Hoppipola. We ventured into newer services too, including custom tailored music and audio solutions for businesses.”
“Dreams are glimpses of the future.”
On his passion for electronic music:
”As a DJ, producer and a lover of electronic music, I really wanted to involve myself more into the culture and contribute to it in any way I could. So apart from my career as a DJ/Producer, I conceptualised a new project called Gently Altered which aimed at opening people’s minds to newer and fresher styles of music,” shares Nishant. He talks about juggling various roles, “It is quite hectic, but I feel amazing as each one of these roles helps me work towards my primary vision, to contribute to the culture of spreading new and fresh music. The path is quite tough and uncertain, but no other choice would’ve made me as happy as I am today.”
”Things were really difficult in the initial stages as there wasn’t much clarity of the goals and path. I had taken a instant leap into this completely new industry, and had suddenly decided to dedicate all that I have to it. There was a lot of hard work and persistence involved, but we learnt on the way and eventually everything fell into place.”
One person that inspires him:
Nishant quotes a piece of advice from one of his biggest inspirations - his father, “If you truly believe in something, don’t be afraid, just go for it. And once you do, never look back.”
XII. Sahil Arora | Bearded. Blunt. Quick-witted.
Who: 28-year-old Sahil Arora is the talented founder and strategist behind Digital Dubba - a branding, design and digital marketing company.
Before Digital Dabba, Sahil used to work with Standard Chartered Bank for four years. He tell us about his experience, “It was a shave - suit - tie everyday kind of gig. It wasn’t any fun but definitely a learning experience. It’s important to stick to some kind of routine and work ethic when you’re starting out on your own, and that was the most important takeaway I had at StanChart. They also paid really well.”
“Dreams are indicators of where you want to end up. You need to figure how to get there when you’re awake.”
On his passion for digital media and entrepreneurship:
”The passion came from understanding markets and people and developing ways to engage with them. The digital space provided enough tools to do that. Design is something we started later, but has always been something I’ve been into, so it was natural progression once the business was doing well enough to add a new vertical. It’s been 4 years of running Digital Dubba, and it’s exciting to be in the position to shape its evolution.”
”It’s not really a challenge, but for a while there’s always some uncertainty about the future. With a job you settle down faster. But, that’s what makes starting out on your own that much more exciting. The hardest thing though is probably balancing a personal life with your business life.”
One line that inspires him:
”What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” - Bukowski.
Follow Sahil on Instagram, and catch Digital Dabba on Facebook.
XIII. Savio Joseph | Ambitious. Networker. Food-lover.
Who: 27-year-old Savio Joseph’s digital marketing agency Teen Bandar works with politicians and provides them with online communication support. His endeavour aims to bridge the communication gap between candidates and the people.
After working with a media company for over two years, Savio’s slow-setting complacency scared him, and pushed him to call it quits. Now, he runs Teen Bandar. “We are based out of Mumbai, and started off in 2014. Like any other start-up, coffee shops (with wi-fi) was the preferred office space, before we decided to move into an office. Teen Bandar is just a year old, and I say, the journey has just started,” he elaborates on his life.
“Dreams are something that don’t let you sleep.”
On his passion for politics and media:
”Politics as a topic always excited me. The reason I quit my job was because I got a chance to work on a political campaign full time. For me, this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. And, that’s how it all started. Post the campaign, Prashant (a close friend and co-founder of Teen Bandar) and I decided on embarking this journey.”
”I think dealing with uncertainty for now is something I consider as a biggest challenge.”
One line that inspires him:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” - Steve Jobs
XIV. Tanvi Mehra | Adventurous. Enthusiastic. Persistent.
Who: 28-year-old Tanvi Mehra is the founder of Bandra’s fitness-oriented studio - Tangerine Arts Studio. Her multiple talents range from yoga (she is a certified instructor) to professional dancing - Bharat Natyam, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, salsa, sufi and tap dancing.
After completing her diploma in fashion marketing abroad, she returned to join the corporate world, “I joined the multi-label boutique Melange for a while. However, there I was absorbed into a new hospitality project that they were working on in parallel. I also had an internship as a fashion writer. But, somehow I never felt that that was my calling.” And, that’s when she quit her day job to pursue her passion and started Tangerine Arts Studio.
“Dreams are goals really. You have to work at them with the belief that they will manifest, and I can vouch that they do.”
On her passion for dance:
”When my family describes me to new people they often use the phrase ‘she has dancing in her blood’. I have always been into dancing. I’ve studied several forms, and dance is what I have pursued the longest. I was dissatisfied in a sedentary job. My body longed for movement. I studied yoga too and decided that I had to chase what my dreams were made of - dance and fitness.”
”When you decide to be an entrepreneur, initially there are always moments where you will second guess your decision. I taught yoga for a year at home before setting up the studio. At first students trickled in, and often I thought things would not change, now I have a full and busy practice. As I’m a one person team I had to abandon dancing in the period of setting up a studio, which was not an easy but a necessary sacrifice. A year and half after tangerine was set up I’m dancing again - learning and teaching - while my yoga practice helps me earn a living. “
One line that inspires her:
”You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
XV. Tanya Nambiar | Practical. Confident. Ambitious.
Who: This 28 years old singer, karaoke jockey, anchor and voice over artist is an all-rounder with her smooth voice. Quitting her last job as a Corporate Sales Manager in a print media organisation, she is now an artist.
”When I was still a ‘corporate slave’ in the day, I would turn into a karaoke jockey by night. I always wanted to sing, but never had the courage to quit, and think of singing as a profession. So alongside my job, I started hosting karaoke nights,” she shares. “Hosting karaoke nights made me realise that maybe I can look to explore more in the entertainment/freelance industry, and in 2012 I quit my day job to focus on singing, and formed my band Gravy Train. It was the best decision ever.”
Alongside singing, she even hosts events and anchors shows, “I love the stage, whether I’m on it as a singer or an anchor or a karaoke jockey. Soon enough, I started dabbling in voice overs and jingles too. It’s been three years of me being my own boss and a freelancer and I couldn’t be happier.”
“Dreams are possible if you set out to conquer them without any fear.”
On her passion for singing
Her love for singing always inspired her, and even at a young age she would participate in school competitions, but never anticipated it would be a career. “When i started Gravy Train it was the best feeling ever. Sharing one’s music with the world, people appreciating your music, being on stage, touring, gigs. Everything. The band came to a stop this year, and now I am working on my solo project along with collaborating with music producers .There is no better feeling in the world than doing what you love. Now everything I do revolves around a microphone. I always knew I wanted to stand out, be different, be my own boss and do things my way.”
”The biggest challenge is that unless you are super accomplished, you have to constantly justify your worth. As a corporate person you haggle once for your salary, but as an artist you have to constantly haggle for most gigs you get.”
One quote that always inspires her:
”If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”- Milton Berle
Follow Tanya on Facebook,
XVI. Vinay Daswani - Ambitious. Observant. Friendly.
Who: 29-year-old Vinay Daswani live and breathes music, and is a freelance live sound engineer, psytrance producer and DJ. That is, when he has time off from being an artist manager at Underground Dance Music record label.
Before quitting his corporate job to study audio engineering, Vinay used to work with Ernst & Young. He shares his experience with us, “It was a good job, but I often felt it wasn’t what I was meant to do. It never made my chest burn with excitement. Sound and music intrigued me, so I decided to quit this and study that. It was that simple.”
“Dreams are visions that create such a stir and excitement within you, that you cannot help but chase them all your life, if necessary.”
On his passion for music:
”When I heard electronic music for the first time, the whole idea of weird sounds coming together to create music intrigued me. Upon listening to more and more music, I grew interested in the creation and use of sound, and hence decided to study it. After five years in the music business, I think it’s safe to say that the work I do now makes me very happy and content,” he explains.
”The biggest challenge till date is to push myself to stay on top of the game. Once you don’t have the luxury of a fixed income, it’s up to you to constantly push yourself and get your work done.”
One line that inspires him:
”Change your mind, and change your life. If nothing around you changes, change the things around you. It’s all in the mind.”