Category Archives: Personality

Chappar Faad Ke – One man's labor of love

 By Vidya Pradhan

Sometimes you have a dream that is so big, so absurd, that pursuing it is like tilting at windmills. But if you happen to be that rare person who will stop at nothing, sometimes that sheer force of will can turn that dream into reality.

Aman Boparai, a project manager in the software industry, nursed his dream to make a full-length Hindi film for years. He tried his hand at short films and eventually wangled his way into assisting a Bollywood film company when they were in town. His experience convinced him that he was ready to tackle the rigors of his own production. Continue reading

Ananda Sen – A new voice in the online music revolution

By Vidya Pradhan

First there was the single. Those of us over a certain age (ahem!) can remember stacks of shiny black vinyl discs with songs by Donny Osmond and Cliff Richards scratching away at 45 RPM on our parents’ LP players. As technology improved and made it possible to fit more than one song per side, the album was born.

Ever since, customers have been bound to this format, even as the delivery mechanism moved from an LP to a CD. Released from the constraint of quality, record labels have been bundling mediocre pieces with hit songs, to the utter frustration of the buyers.

No longer; thanks to the internet, the music industry has done a 360. Today the single, in the form of the mp3, has made a comeback as distributors like ITunes and Amazon Music make single songs available to the listening public.

This method of marketing music and the role of the internet in disseminating it have opened the doors for struggling musicians as they reach a wider audience without the support of established record labels. One such Indian-American musician, Ananda Sen, has taken the movement to its logical conclusion. On his website, he offers one free song per week for download, committing to a 52-week cycle of songs. Continue reading

From finance to fitness

By Vidya Pradhan

Let’s face it..to many Indians, exercise for exercise’s sake is often considered a waste of time. After all, our agrarian ancestors depended on hard work in the fields and back-breaking efforts in maintaining the household to work off the lassi and ghee. Middle class homes featured simple, low calorie food, rich in seasonal vegetables and local grain. Options for eating out were limited to the local dhaba or udipi joint.

Today, our environment has had an explosion of food choices, from processed to fast food, but alas, our mindset has remained the same; which may explain why the South Asian Heart Center in El Camino Hospital is chock-a-block with young Indians with heart disease.

Shobha Reddy, fitness guru from Mountain View, is doing her bit to shatter this mindset and get us sedentary Indians off our couches and on to the gym floor. Once a portfolio manager with a mutual fund company in Mountain View, Shobha traded in stocks and bonds till a meeting with a personal trainer in 1998 made her focus on an investment in the health of the body rather than the health of her client’s finances.

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A multicultural funny guy

By Vidya Pradhan

Half-Indian, half-Japanese, stand-up comedian Dan Nainan has an act that is considered second only to Russell Peters. An ex-employee of Intel, Dan took a comedy class to help him lose his stage fright during technical demos and found his calling.(scroll down for a video of his act) WNI caught up with Dan when he was in town recently to perform at the Home of Hope’s 10th annual fundraiser. In person, the comedian is affable, unassuming and approachable. Continue reading

Interview with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

By Vidya Pradhan Motorcycle riding, Frisbee playing iconoclast or loving spiritual mentor? After an interview with Sadhguru, I can almost picture him saying with a belly laugh “Are the two mutually exclusive?” I heard of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev through two friends who have been deeply influenced by his words, his actions and even his very presence. A spiritual rebel who has disclaimed deep knowledge of traditional Hindu scriptures, Sadhguru experienced a transcendent bliss at the age of 25 and has since made it his mission to share his experiences with others. He has served as delegate to the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, the Alliance for the New Humanity, and is an active supporter of the World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. Recently he was in the Bay Area to address the members of TIECON. Through his Isha Foundation, he has directed several outreach programs for life-term prisoners, impoverished children and rural rejuvenation in southern India. When he graciously agreed to a phone interview from India, I was a little intimidated. Despite reading many of his speeches and sayings, I was no closer to understanding the essence of his teachings. Continue reading

Showbiz India's Reshma Dordi

By Vidya Pradhan

Reshma Dordi is the host and producer of the popular weekly Bollywood program ' Showbiz India'. WNI caught up with her when she was in town showing her support for Ruchika, an organisation that supports schools for homeless children in India.

Gorgeous and gracious, Reshma spent a few minutes talking about her career track and plans for the future of her successful show.

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Young Global Leader

By Rohini Mohan
What do Aishwarya Rai, Karan Johar and Jhumpa Lahiri have in common with Infosys Vice-President, Subhash Dhar? They are all part of the exclusive forum of Young Global Leaders commissioned to envision a better world by 2030 and to develop concrete ideas and strategies to transform that vision into reality.

In conversation with Sujit Saraf

By Nandini Minocha
In the Bay Area, Sujit Saraf is best known as the founder, director and creative head of the Indian theatre company Naatak which recently celebrated its 25th production. But Sujit also works full time at Lockheed Martin as a research scientist and has recently published a novel. He has also directed feature films.

An author, a playwright , a director and a scientist… Sujit  Saraf wears many hats and wears them all well.

I met him for lunch at Dee Dee’s, a no-frills place in Mountain that is authentically Indian, not unlike the subject of my interview.

We had just an hour so I jumped right to it. My first question was, “Who do you see yourself as – a scientist an artist or a director?”

His unassuming reply was, “I’m a writer. ‘Artist’ is a pompous term. And my directorial skills would not stand scrutiny when set beside the skills of others known for that. However, I believe I compete with distinction in the art of writing”.  His novel “The Peacock Throne” has just been picked up by Sceptre for distribution in Europe and India.
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