Shyam Benegal, Award Winning Director, Screenwriter, Member of Parliament Shyam Benegal is an Indian director and Screenwriter. With his first four feature films Ankur (1973), Nishant (1975), Manthan (1976) and Bhumika (1977) he created a new genre, which has now come to be called the “middle cinema” in India.He has expressed dislike of the term, preferring his work to be called New or Alternate cinema. He was awarded the highest civilian awards in India, Padma Shri in 1976 and the Padma Bhushan in 1991. On 8 August 2007, Benegal was awarded the highest award in Indian cinema for lifetime achievement, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2005. He has won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi seven time and was awarded the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Mumbai International Film Festival.
Dr. Uday Kamath, the Chief Analytics Officer at Smarsh, drives AI innovations and analytical advancements. He has contributed to research published in journals, authored books, and holds multiple patents. With a deep passion for music, he has managed the DC music scene for two decades, hosting talented artists from India and the US. Dr. Kamath is an accomplished Urdu poet known for his Ghazals, Nazms, and Rubayiis, sung by renowned Ghazal and Classical singers. Additionally, he is an avid music researcher focusing on chhand or rhythm patterns.
Rita Meher, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Tasveer Rita Meher co-founded Tasveer in the aftermath of 9/11 to provide a platform for South Asians to tell their stories and create a more informed and just society through thought-provoking arts events. The desired outcomes are increased cross-cultural understanding, engagement of South Asians in meaningful community dialogue, and promotion of the work of South Asian artists. She was born and brought up in India, and lived in Japan before moving to Seattle. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Odia, and Japanese. Before becoming the ED of Tasveer in 2012, Rita was a video producer and editor for 12 years. She has produced award-winning public television shows and made her career debut on TV in Japan in 1995. She edited the award-winning Bangladeshi documentary “Threads” and made her first short film, “Citizenship101”, based on her own immigrant experiences. Rita has been honored by Northwest Asian Weekly as the Seattle Globalist of the Year in 2015, Rising Star in 2015, and Community Voice in 2016. She’s also been honored by the International Examiner with an Excellence in Arts Award in 2016. Under her guidance, Tasveer was nominated for the Seattle Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts in 2017. Her passion is to bring to light the stories of the South Asian Diaspora.
Niharika Chibber Joe, is a United States civil servant. She is also a prize-winning published poet and short story writer. Niharika speaks several languages, but writes in English, and sometimes in Japanese or in Hindi. Most recently, her work has been published in In All the Spaces: Diverse Voices in Global Women’s Poetry (2020), Millennium Poesy (2021), Earth, Fire, Water, Wind (2021), Lockdown Prayers (2021), Paradise on Earth: An International Anthology (2021), the upcoming Ruptured anthology, and in the Setu Online Literary Journal. Niharika is a racial equity, social justice and climate warrior. She holds a B.A and M.A. in Japanese Language and Literature from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. She also holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Sarmad Khoosat is a Pakistani actor, film/TV director, producer and screenwriter best known for directing the super-hit TV dramas Humsafar and Shehr-e-Zaat. He is considered to be one of the best South Asian filmmakers with his 2019 film Zindagi Tamasha being selected as Pakistan’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. The film also premiered at the 24th Busan International Film Festival under the section ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’. He also portrayed the role of Saadat Hasan Manto in his film Manto.
Chitra Banerjee is an Indian-born American author, poet, and Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Her short story collection, Arranged Marriage, won an American Book Award in 1996. Two of her novels (The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart), as well as a short story (The Word Love) were adapted into films.
Divakaruni’s works are largely set in India and the United States, and often focus on the experiences of South Asian immigrants. She writes for children as well as adults, and has published novels in multiple genres, including realistic fiction, historical fiction, magical realism, myth and fantasy.
Founded the festival as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit arts organization presenting in Los Angeles an annual film festival dedicated to Indian cinema. Created, developed, and expanded the now well-established and prestigious film festival into a creative and business portal between the Indian and the American entertainment industries. Supervised all financial and developmental aspects and managed a staff of 35 and a volunteer team of 100. Developed key relationships with leading entertainment studios and networks, individual donors, governmental, corporate, and charitable organizations.
Shruthi Mukund brings more than 20 years of experience in arts programming, research, special events, and grassroots methods together with an equity lens to inform her work in socially accountable community engagement. She has a Master’s in Arts Management from American University. Shruthi is currently the Director of Community Engagement at Olney Theatre. She runs the Indian Dance Educators Association a volunteer service organization supporting Indian classical dancers, schools, and companies. She also supports Natyabhoomi School of Dance founded by her sister Deepti Mukund Navile.
As a curator, consultant, and speaker, she creates dynamic experiences through arts programming and uses her extensive network to build community and cross-cultural bridges strategically. She has shared her knowledge and experience on many panels and presentations. She sits on grant panels regularly to lend a diverse viewpoint and mentors emerging arts administrators, especially women of color.