Mohit Rajhans has become one of the most prominent and respected faces of South Asian arts, culture and of course film in Canada.
Surprisingly he didn’t get his start in the arts. After studying Labour Relations and Human Resource Management at university, he worked for 5 years doing business consulting. “I hit a wall. I thought that either I continue to do this or I actually do something that lets me wake up happy each day.” As a film buff for as long as he could remember, Mohit knew that there were hundreds of independent filmmakers without a venue to tell their stories so, he founded the FILMI South Asian film festival of Toronto.
It opened a new world for him. Soon his work for the community was recognized and he was hired by OMNI television to head up their burgeoning Bollywood entertainment content.
“There are an awful lot of people who just want to be on-air and long for that media exposure. There are never enough people behind the scenes who understand the business, how to make the big decisions or know how to bring people together. And I felt like that was something I could do.”
Mohit continued to work behind the scenes as a producer at CBC, on freelance projects with the Director’s Guild of Canada, the Canadian Film Society, and director of programming at the Reel World film festival. At one time he worked 5 jobs; freelancer for the CBC, OMNI TV, CityTV News, Breakfast Television and Flow 93.5.
Finally he landed a job with a great fit. For 8 years he worked at the number one morning show, Breakfast Television, as a segment producer and as an on air film critic for CityNews, all the while still working the Bollywood beat on OMNI TV.
Growing up he felt that Indian cinema was totally ingrained in him. “I still remember those very first Indian films that came on VHS, those Esquire movies with Amitabh that my dad would show us. I went to the Naz theatre as a kid. And I kind of just took it for granted, but all those years I was just building my knowledge and reference points that have helped me in my many interviews. It’s not Wikipedia I refer to but true knowledge and love of the films”
Not every reporter is able to freely access both the Eastern and Western film worlds. “Getting to know Priyanka Chopra over 6 interviews, from her very beginnings to now has been wonderful. With CITY I had the chance to interview everyone from Billy Crystal to Hulk Hogan, to Kim Kardashian to Stephen Harper.” Mohit has had many memorable moments working in television including interviewing George Clooney and Priyanka Chopra within an hour of each other, but most memorable was hosting an intimate dinner for Amitabh, Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar and John Abraham at TIFF.
“That was one of my proudest moments, something my parents were so proud of and shared with their friends. An entire day with Anupam Kher, when he had his very first international red carpet was very special. To share that with him was phenomenal. Having Shah Rukh teach me how to dance in front of a group of people was rather interesting too!”
Mohit is now working with Cineplex Digital Networks, setting up the largest digital network of its kind in Canada. One of which he tells me is a soon to launch service in all the Tim Horton’s stores across the country. “Its a chance for me to use my content creation experience with my business knowledge. With the understanding that the corporate world really needs this type of expertise.”
But he will never turn away from his love of film. “I just wrapped a show called ‘Short Film Face-off’ as a panelist. It will be broadcast on the CBC this fall. It’s a great opportunity for young film-makers to showcase their talents and finally have a platform to exhibit their work. I’m extremely excited about the emerging Canadian talent that this show will feature. Hopefully this will lead to more international recognition for our film-makers.”
When asked what his favourite movies of all time are, he immediately says “Black” (2005 film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali) and then adds DDLJ, Sholay, 3 Idiots, Amar Akbar Anthony.
You can follow Mohit on twitter: @mohitsmovies