Answer this honestly: Do you work because you have to? Or because you want to? The majority of us would, reluctantly, have to plump for the former. However, an increasing number of Indians are finding the perfect balance on the work-life ratio concept by converting a passion into a paying proposition. It's not easy, but look at it this way - you don't need to work ever again.
All fun and games
Like Vishal Gondal, 30. Hooked onto computer games since a very early age, gaming became a full-blown obsession by the time he was in his teens. One day, when he was barely 20, he walked into the Pepsi corporate office in Mumbai and persuaded their head honcho to check out a game he had developed. It involved shooting down simulations of bitter competitor Coke's cola cans. "It was music to their ears," Gondal grins.
The young entrepreneur sold the game to Pepsi for Rs 60,000, and went on to create games for brand names like Colgate, Kellogg's and Hindustan Lever. In 1999, the Kargil war prompted him and a handful of associates to come up with a computer game, where the objective was to shoot down enemy soldiers. The game, called I Love India, was a huge hit. He then launched Indiagames, now a 350-people company with offices in Mumbai, Beijing and Los Angeles and a 2006 turnover of $5 million.
Sounds like a fairy tale? The happy ending - not that the success story's over - perhaps had something to do with the founder's complete belief in his idea. "There was no real market research or business vision behind the venture," says Gondal. "I launched Indiagames simply because it was what I loved."
After the initial tunnel vision, though, the entrepreneur has shown exemplary business sense. After venture capitalists bought into the idea, funding Indiagames with Rs 3.5 crore (Rs 35 million), Gondal diversified into mobile game publishing, game distribution in India and online, on-demand gaming.
At the same time, Gondal retains his childlike enthusiasm for gaming. "From the very beginning, I believed that if you are passionate about your dream, the money would follow. Even today, I play all day at office and then play some more when I get home on my XBox and Nintendo game consoles."
The sound of Rock
If Gondal's family once despaired of a son who flunked his B.Com finals, people even today would find it incredible that the six-member Parikrama can make a living out of music that is not Bollywood. One of the biggest English rock band in India, however, prefers to call their occupation "a hobby that pays well".
Says bassist-turned-keyboardist Subir Malik, 36, who formed the band back in 1991: "We have dedicated our entire lives to rock music. I told the band in 1991 that this is one thing I would never compromise on. So even today, we do what we love - play rock and roll - and on our own terms."
Parikrama's first paid gig was at Father Agnels School, New Delhi, on Independence Day in 1991, for which they were promised Rs 500. "But the organisers really liked what we did and gave us Rs 500 each," says Malik. Since then, the band has only gotten bigger as rock music in India grew in popularity. Parikrama now earns around Rs 200,000 per concert and most band-members nurture music-related jobs to ensure they "don't turn into Indipop artistes for want of money". Guitarist Sonam Sherpa, for instance, runs the Parikrama School of Music in Delhi, while others have launched studios and artist management set-ups.
"The going is not as difficult now as it was during our initial years. Careers in rock music are more feasible now, with the genre winning the patronage of pub-owners and event-organisers," says Malik. "Today, there are a million bands and they're all playing good music. I have never seen so much talent in my entire career!"