“All my life I’ve been bridging cultures. Ancient and modern, traditional and contemporary. I’m passionate about telling stories that blend my rich Indian heritage with my American point of view.”
Sri Rao is a filmmaker, author, and lifestyle expert based in New York City. He stands uniquely positioned at the intersection of Hollywood & Bollywood as one of the few Americans to have worked in the mainstream Indian film industry. Sri talks about his new book Bollywood Kitchen and his life in an interview:
Let’s begin with your experience in the White House?
It was an excellent and a life-changing experience at the White House as a thought leader on Indian-American culture, I spoke for an Indian community organization named “Seva”.
Bollywood kitchen is blend of films and recipes. … What inspired this unique concept?
Growing up in America where everything was non-Indian was difficult, but at home we were raised very traditionally. One of the ways our culture was conveyed to us was through Indian food and Indian Films. So, I decided to put these two concepts together and made it into a dinner and movie book.
“It all started with turtle and the Rabbit”. Give your insights about that comment.
I have been writing all my life and the first play I ever wrote was when I was 5 years old in my Kindergarten class. And the play was about the turtle and the rabbit. I wrote it, directed it and acted it.
“The way to man’s heart is through his stomach”… how relevant do you think that statement is in today’s world?
I think it’s absolutely true. One of the ways we express our love for other people is through food. It doesn’t matter which country you come from…. The one thing that is common to all of us is food. Food is the main ingredient of life that is present in every celebration. The main example of this would be the first bond of a baby with his mother, through feeding. Food is definitely the way to people’s hearts.
How does this New Yorker find the time to do it all?
Writing has been always been my passion. Writing has been always been my dream and I have been fortunate enough to turn my dream into a career. Going to work is not a chore.
The smell and the music together can bring back memories…. Share a memory with us.
Life for my parents has been very challenging in America. They arrived in late 1950s and there were not very many Indian people in America. It was a whole new world all together. When I was growing up and we were having dinner together, every night and we would watch TV together and that was the happiest time for my family. That was when we felt the most connected to our culture.
First television, then the big screen and now a book….. What should we expect next?
My other dream is to create a theatrical experience. My next project is to venture into theatre. Indian culture has lot to offer and it would be so amazing to watch something so live and colorful in a theatre. I think it would be really exciting to bring such a vibrant culture to people.
What is a typical day like?
A great thing about being writer is that every day is completely different and every day is what you choose to make of it. I do my work when inspiration hits me. It could be early in the morning or late at night. I don’t have a regimented schedule. I try to work on one project at a time.
A few words for the readers and new writers…..
We are at a very exciting moment for artists of Indian heritage and artist from all different backgrounds because audiences are really craving diversity, new stories and new characters that they have not seen before. It’s a wonderful opportunity and is also the right time if you wish to pursue your passion.