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Conversations with Duo Behind The Chaat Room Podcast

Today we’d like to introduce you to The Chaat Room Podcast.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Keertana: I had been working with Brown Girl Magazine since 2010 and in the film/TV industry since 2013. I wanted to find a way to combine those two ventures into a podcast format, but needed a partner to help formulate the best purpose and theme for our Brown Girl audience. When I met Nikki in 2018, we quickly realized we had similar goals for how to build South Asian representation, but do it in a really fun and informative way. We especially wanted to make sure we created a forum for younger South Asians to want to be more engaged in the arts and entertainment industry as a whole.

Nikki: When I decided that I wanted to join the entertainment industry, I didn’t know where to begin. For law, medicine, business, you have pretty straightforward steps to take to achieve success but entertainment isn’t that way, and if you don’t have any immediate connections it can be really hard to break into the “club” and even harder to know you’re on the “right” track. But there is no right track, and that the career options in this industry are infinite. We wanted to create an environment devoid of competition and stigma so that young South Asians could pursue these careers (and navigate the difficult brown parent convos that come with it, lol!) with confidence. But at the end of the day, Keertana and I just want to make it more accessible to the next generation!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Nikki: I think I’d actually be concerned if it had been a smooth road especially since we recorded and launched everything during the lockdown. Also, Keertana and I both work full-time jobs, and creating, editing, and managing social media for a podcast on our own has definitely been challenging at times. But we always support one another, and of course, our Brown Girl Magazine family and our amazing artist Aishwarya Sukesh have saved our asses on multiple occasions. Keertana knows and has put up with my lack of social media savvy – y’all, I will never judge an influencer ever again in my life.

Keertana: The good thing about having a partner is that usually, if I don’t know something, Nikki has a better understanding of it and vice versa. For example, Nikki is usually better at keeping us on track during guest interviews and I have more experience editing video for our social media segments. And for the things we don’t know, we thankfully have help. As Nikki mentioned, our podcast artist, Aishwarya Sukesh is a genius, the Brown Girl Magazine CEO, Trisha Sakhuja-Walia, is great with social media / marketing assistance, and our consulting producer Pallavi Sastry is always around for second opinions, etc. Plus, our music composed by Sridatt Bhamidipati is straight fire… Did I use that right, Nikki?

Nikki: Yes you did, I’m very proud.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Keertana: As we mentioned before, Nikki and I both have full-time jobs in the entertainment industry. Nikki runs Nisha Ganatra’s production company, Ladies’ Car Productions. I work in film/TV casting and have recently started producing films, including a short (“Thank You, Come Again”) currently on the festival circuit. Our careers have informed how we format our podcast episodes. We have the typical guest interview segments, which are meant to show the breadth and relatability of South Asians who work in front of and behind the camera on some of your favorite movies and shows.

Nikki: Yes! With a lot of emphasis on behind the camera, which inspired my parents’ favorite segment “Business w/ Bae,” where we get more into the mechanics of our industry and the jobs that people aren’t talking about enough, like our own careers! Haha.

Keertana: And then we like to have a little fun with our “Now Re-Playing” segments, where we take old films from around the world that have South Asian leads or stories and critique them with modern-day sensibilities, usually with special guests (who are always funnier than us).

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Keertana: At the end of the day, the podcast is all about positivity. We want our listeners to feel informed, yes, but also inspired and motivated to figure out what artistic career they are most passionate about and to know that no journey they take to get there is the wrong one. And as corny as it sounds, it’s really heartwarming to see our South Asian arts community be so supportive throughout our first season.

Nikki: Exactly, and nothing makes us happier than when we get DMs from young South Asians in college telling us how much they love and need this podcast for themselves and their parents’ understanding. We try to keep it PG for the rents (emphasis on “try”).

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Image Credits:

[Photos courtesy of The Chaat Room Podcast / Brown Girl Magazine]

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