On MTV’s 31st anniversary, we take a look at some of the iconic VJs who brought music to our lives, through TV music channels.
Music, for most of us growing up in the ‘90s, was MTV. August 1, 1981 was the day the channel was first launched in New York City, and in three decades, it has become ubiquitous, with versions available in almost every country. But early MTV wasn’t just about the music. It came complete with a set of youthful, chatty video jockeys (VJs) who, to our adolescent eyes, seemed the very epitome of cool.
David Wu was one of the first MTV VJs to appear on Indian screens. More popularly known as the ‘Wu-man’, the charismatic Chinese-American hosted the laid-back weekend Wu-Man Show and Go West. He later shifted to Channel V Asia and continued to host Go West and several other shows. Apart from his TV stint, Wu has also starred in a string of movies, including Farewell My Concubine, Full Throttle and Devils on the Doorstep. He continues to host TV shows and recently appeared as a judge on Smart Cook, a Chinese reality show.
People watched Channel V’s The Ticket for two things; the low-down on the latest movies and Sophiya Haque. In the ‘90s, the leggy VJ Sophiya was one of the more memorable faces on the channel and went on to host Rewind and Sophiya’s Choice. She has made appearances in movies like Khoobsurat, Snip and The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey. She also acted in the British TV series Coronation Street and did a cameo in the Angelina Jolie-starrer Wanted. As of 2012, she’s acting in a TV series, House of Anubis, a soap opera targeted at children and teenagers.
Strong Canadian accents and permed hair were big in the ‘90s, and a major reason was VJ Kamal Sidhu. First with Channel V and later with MTV Asia, Kamal was a fixture on Indian music channels in the decade. Her athletic figure and her chiselled features made her popular with teenagers, even though she was more subdued than the other VJs. Kamal starred in a couple of movies, Little Zizou and Aar Ya Paar, but is better known for hosting and producing an environmental show, EarthPulse, on the National Geographic Channel. She is also reportedly working on a film script currently.
Chirpy, sassy and cute, Ruby Bhatia stormed Channel V in the ‘90s. Though she was with the channel for only four years, her charismatic personality made her popular. She was seen in serials like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi and Kasauti Zindagi Kay and movies such as Chori Chori Chupke Chupke and Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon.
Long before he was Rob in Rock On!, Luke Kenny was the coolest man on Indian television. As Channel V’s first male VJ in India, Luke introduced a whole generation to mainstream and off-beat international music. He later returned with Luke’s After Hours in 2005.