In conversation with Prof. Hari Kurup
This is not your typical Bollywood interview but the person I am interviewing could have well been in the film industry had he chosen to make a career out of his creative filmy genius. Thankfully, Prof. Hari Kurup chose the noble profession of teaching. Through this interview, we have tried to learn more about the man himself, his love for teaching and things hitherto unknown. Excerpts from the conversation with Prof Hari Kurup(HK).
Ques: Not many boys express a desire to become a professor while growing up. How did you become one?
HK: It’s probably because there is no glamour attached to the job! People haven’t really understood the role of a teacher! For me teaching just happened. I was the manager heading one of Mumbai’ s leading Educational Firms and got tired! Even though initially teaching was supposed to fuel my bread and butter, it now acts as an appetizer for my soul. Teaching youngsters is a very liberating experience!
Ques: You are young yourself and while teaching certainly is liberating, addressing a packed classroom is no joke. How do you manage to do that? Do you get any butterflies in your stomach?
HK: Yes, Ofcourse! Butterflies fluttered on that first day of addressing a packed batch of Podar Third Year students in 2010 and butterflies flutter even today when I get into a class of FY students. Every stage performer/ artist recognises this. Unlike our rockstar actors and singer who get paid per stage show, teachers are hugely underrated. Once the lecture starts however the focus shifts to how best you can help students with the topic at hand battling time constraints, short term interest levels…You name it, we face it. Also, mobiles are major sources of distraction(smiles).
Ques: So would you rather prefer teaching in an era when mobile phones were considered a luxury?
HK: Not at all. I absolutely enjoy teaching the current lot. I am sure we as kids without phones presented a different set of problems to our teachers in school and college. There is never a perfect world.
Ques: Can you handpick one lecture of yours that you tremendously enjoyed and why?
HK: As a rule,I try to enjoy every single lecture I take. Otherwise it would be quite impossible to survive! Researching thoroughly for every lecture is mandatory and that is what keeps the interest levels up.
But yes, I have that one special lecture called the “The Legacy” which I do with every outgoing batch where I share a part of me with them. It’s like a parting gift from me to them.
Ques: Talking about special lecture, back in our days, teachers had their class favourites for whom their unwavering attention used to be reserved. Do you have a blue-eyed student?
HK: Blue eyed boy/ girl is actually a myth! Teachers can’t afford to have one unless they want to carry the “he is partial” tag! So its a batch for me and not one student. But there have been many excellent students who have been impressive through the years but I won’t name anyone.
Ques: Going back in time, tell us how was your college life?
HK: I had a very regular College life..
HK: Actually scrap that. Let me say I had a very dynamic pre-degree where I was almost rusticated for doing something ‘unpardonable and unmentionable’. But its just one of those things kids do when they are free from the bondages that schools create and I was just acting up! My degree was more sober where I was one of the “good” students!
Ques: Falling in love is something that inevitably happens to every college going youngster. Did you have a special someone in college?
HK: Ohhh! Love is a very Utopian concept for a teenager! Even for me as a college-goer, lots of love at first sight happened. But nothing special to speak about.
Ques: I know you are quite creatively inclined and can write some brilliant poetry. Any plans of dabbling into writing regularly?
HK: Regularly? No. But there are the occasional moments where the mind wanders and brings out an amateur writer’s cry to the world around. I am planning to one day finish writing a novel I had started with a very good friend of mine.
Ques:Not many know that you had once auditioned for a MTV show. Tell us, more about it. How did it happen. How did it go?
HK: Hahaha… again a college boy’s fantasy of being on TV! MTV was auditioning for VJs and if I remember that was the year when they were looking for VJs who could be really crazy on screen.
Ques: And you didn’t ace the audition?
HK: Evidently I didn’t. And thank god for that.
Ques: You are a movie buff. What kind of movies do you enjoy watching?
HK: Hmmm.. given the kind of movies coming out these days! NONE! But if I have to pick one, I think I have an affinity for dark movies and tasteful humour both of which will work for me any day!
Ques: How does Prof Hari Kurup unwind?
HK: I relax with a good book.. listen to music…have the occasional night outs with my friends!
Ques: How has life changed after marriage?
HK: The world has changed after marriage. Life is still the same. Responsibilities, friends, job everything seems more demanding now!
Ques: Where do u see yourself five years down the line?
HK: Probably as an entrepreneur, a successful novelist and a much better teacher!
Ques: One line that you often use while lecturing?
HK: Students would be the best ones to answer that
Ques: Favourite subject?
HK: IMPTP. I love ancient management thoughts and practices.
Ques: If not a professor then what else?
HK: Stand up comic..definitely!
Ques: One thing that you want to change about our education system?
HK: Actually there are many. One can write a thesis on that but rote learning is the first thing that comes to mind. Sem end exam pattern is another thing I would like to change. It only makes kids mug up/rote learn without an iota of assimilation!
Ques: Your inspiration?
HK: Can’t name a single person. My dreams are my inspiration.